A SAPPHIRE SERENITY
A TELLUSM TALE
The young girl sat comfortably, relaxing, deep in thought. She peered up at the picturesque sapphire sky. There weren’t any clouds hanging around today which, disappointed her deeply, but then, there were never any. She couldn’t recall ever seeing the fluffy whiteness of them in this inexplicable place. It was like the three gods had forgotten to put them there, perhaps an oversight on their behalf?
The only astronomical event present above was that angry ball of fire. Large, and iridescent giving continuous daylight. It had burned a deep angry orange since the very beginning and would continue to forever, or so it was prophesied.
There were no clouds sadly, but there were plenty of birds singing. The melody of life being carried though the ethereal currents to the spirits of things. The throng accumulated here like something inherently was calling out to them, a strong attraction that held them here that was almost curious to her.
This place was beautiful and serene like a painting trapped in time.
A mesmerising chirp of a nearby hoopoe could be heard amongst the trees. These small birds with their bold violet stripes and long curved beaks fascinated her. Maybe they always had?
The little thing has probably come for a drink or to bathe in the shallow water.
A small stream flowed through this place cutting the meadow in half. When she put her toes in, it always felt fresh and cool. The girl could have sworn that she had seen a fish lurking in there once towards the deeper areas by the rocks. It could have been a shadow though. The trees would often cast various shadows here depending on where the Eversun decided to sit above. The girl would watch the shadows jump about on the grass as if they were alive, almost like they were acting out a story. She was laid in one of those areas now. The beams of light coming through the branches of the trees were creating their own tales on her thighs. The warmth of it was calming.
“It’s like they’re telling a story. Don’t you think?” she said still facing the open sky.
“Like a story?” He mumbled back to her with that unique tone that only he had when he spoke.
“Yes. The shadows. They dance about. They seem alive to me. Their movements are as if they’re acting out a story of heroes and villains,” the girl spoke nonchalantly.
“I… I’ve never seen it that way before,” he replied with his gentle tone.
The girl always tried to ask at least five questions every few hours to the man she shared this paradise with. She was very curious about many subjects in general and during her time had discovered that five questions were about the man’s limit before his answers began to be overly vague or simply unheard.
“Well? Do you think they tell stories?” She sat up, grabbed a nearby pebble and hurled it into the stream. The plopping sound that was created broke the silence the man seemed to be giving her.
I guess he’s not very talkative right now.
She looked upon the man whom she cohabited this place with. Had she ever seen his face? The dark hood he wore always obscured it from sight. It was only now after all this time had she thought about it. She wondered what he looked like. He sounded old, but when he moved it was with the air of a younger man. It was confusing to her.
A bit like my existence here.
How long had she been in this place? Had she always been there? She gazed at the trees that circled the meadow. She knew in her heart that the trees went on forever just as the sun above burned. There must have been something before this, but she couldn’t remember. There was a thought, a word, in the back of her mind hiding. It wanted desperately to sneak out of its hiding place and introduce itself to her. She focused all her will on it and drew it out. The single word made the hairs on her arms stand to attention and she felt a shiver crawl down her spine when she spoke the word out aloud.
It sounded thin and raspy when she said it, but the word was familiar. Was she Ficah? It was wrapped in different feelings and memories. They were coming back to her now easily as flashing images in her mind.
She remembered the Mist and when it dissolved letting them in, she remembered the group who saved her, they were heroes. A ferocious Behemoth who had fought off the hordes with his razor-sharp claws, the Faery who threw fire sending them running for their lives, the Trollem who stopped the Grand Dragon single handily through blind rage and finally, the dark-haired man who rode a Hydra and commanded an army of beasts in her defence.
He fought for me until the end. I remember him now, what was his name? I can’t remember.
As she had laid there dying, he held her close, he had kind grey eyes filled with tears. He spoke to her until she left that world. He made her feel safe like he always had. He made a promise to her as she bled dark into the earth. His words were so clear to her now. Like they had been written with a quill and ink inside her head. The girl knew he would keep the promise he made to her that day in his arms. She had never been so certain of anything.
“It won’t be long now…” the hooded man said.
It broke her recollection of her last moments.
The girl watched the ripples in the stream spread out against the slow flow of the water trying to understand his comment.
“What the shadows? Or the shadows telling stories?” the girl was confused by the man’s response to her question earlier. He often would reply to her in a strange way, she was used to it. This response, however, did seem disconcerting.
“No shadows only light…” the man said slowly weighted with a heavy breath.
The girl stood up to face the man and noticed a slight breeze had started to stir in the leaves of the trees making a background rustling sound.
I can’t remember there ever having been a breeze.
“Only light? I don’t understand,” the girl started to feel a little uneasy a knot of anxiety in her stomach started to twist.
“It’s still okay though? Isn’t it?” she said to him wanting a firm answer.
He didn’t answer her.
She glanced at the floor to see a peculiar change in the colour of the grass. It seemed darker, less bright green like the vibrancy of it was flowing away like the water in the stream. She looked up towards the sky and saw to her surprise that now there were clouds. There were lots of clouds now a mix of greys and whites.
Where did they come from?
She noticed that little hoopoe now perched on top of a nearby branch. The bird was still and seemingly unaffected by the wind that was continuing to increase in velocity moment by moment. The bird wasn’t singing anymore.
It was just watching her. Still.
She couldn’t recall a time when she had seen a bird stand so still. Just watching her, like a statue.
She pleaded to the man, “It’s still okay? Isn’t it?” she tried hard to remove the undertone of growing panic in her voice.
The man remained silent.
All that could be heard now was the increasing wind shaking the trees. The stream seemed to swell. It increased in size and the water flowing through it was going much quicker almost violent.
I can’t remember this happening before.
“You don’t need to panic, girl. This is what you have wanted.” The man said, turning his back on her, his long dark overcoat being raised by the winds showing his thick boots below.
The girl stunned and scared didn’t know what to say. She watched him walk towards the trees. “What I wanted? What do you mean? Where are you going?” she screamed her second question through fear. She didn’t want to be left here by herself.
She ran after the man and stood in his way blocking his path. The wind was flapping his overcoat against his legs. He stopped and looked down at the girl. She investigated the darkness inside of his hood. There was no face, just darkness and words.
“I am going where I always go,” he said completely calm and relaxed.
The girl wondered how he could be so peaceful when all around them was descending into disarray. “Are you coming back?” the girl needed to shout it loud over the sounds of their environment.
The man placed his hands on the girl’s shoulders which didn’t make her feel comforted, “I don’t need to come back.” He gently squeezed her shoulders and moved her kindly out of his way.
The girl now broke down into tears, she didn’t understand. She watched him walk slowly towards the trees. The sky now dark grey, a storm brewing as he walked. “PLEASE…I DON’T WANT TO BE ALONE!” she shouted in desperation.
For a moment he stopped.
A sudden and massive relief washed over her. Only to be broken when he stepped into the forest and without any trace vanished into the chaos.
The girl dropped to her knees while everything around her unravelled. The girl placed her shaking hands on her face and cried harder. She was so scared. She had never felt so alone. She wasn’t sure how long she was there crying. It could have been minutes, or it could have been weeks.
A familiar feeling made her lookup. The hoopoe was stood in front of her just out of reach. It was completely motionless and simply staring. Through her tears and her panic, it provided a strange sense of comfort.
It made a slight movement with its head. Its eyes were as black as night and completely locked onto hers.
She didn’t know-how. But she felt relief in this little bird’s presence.
Strange, like a beacon of light in a dark storm.
She looked all around her and noticed that the colour of the forest was leaching away. The clouds had turned from grey to black and the water of the stream had drained away. The violent wind started to calm coming to a stop.
Is it coming to an end? After all this time.
As the darkness invaded everything and covered all in a blanket of black the bird didn’t move, didn’t flinch. Always staying completely focused on her throughout. She almost wanted to reach out and pick the little bird up. It was all that was left to her.
They were now in complete darkness. The girl and the bird were lit up from some unidentified light source coming from some unidentified direction.
“What’s happening? Where am I? I don’t understand,” she shouted into the curtain of night.
The bird remained still. She slowly stood up and tried to make anything out in the void all around her.
There was nothing. She knew there wasn’t. She knew that the darkness went on forever like the forest and the sun before it.
The little bird took flight. It circled around the girl’s head maybe two or three times before finally flying off into the distance. She felt the compulsion to run after it but realised it was useless.
“I am now completely alone,” she said swallowing hard. The girl realised then she had always been alone. The meadow was simply a place to wait for the end.
Suddenly, a light appeared ahead. It was bright and harsh against the black of the darkness.
She repeated, “I am alone.”
A shadow silhouette formed within it before her. It seemed to move and dance in the same way the shadows had in her meadow earlier. She moved towards it, that same attraction again, calling. It was huge, like a massive wall of light.
What could it be?
“I am alone,” she whispered once more under her breath.
“No, you’re not. Not anymore, Ficah,” a voice whispered back from the shadow within the light wall.
Before she had a chance to reply she felt a familiar hand grasp hers gently.
“Follow me,” said the voice.
As she entered the light, she thought to herself.
His promise was kept.
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The Fae of Darkwood is a dark fantasy based in the south of Tellusm where evil spirits lurk.
He's a good man carrying a dark secret. But he never expected it to lead him into the thorns of Darkwood. Now there is something dark inside his soul and he can't escape.