The Water Maiden: A Realm of Light Short Story

The closest to restless spirits my Realm of Light  novels (Believe, Prophecy, Ashes, and others) get…

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

The Water Maiden

She had lurked in the rolling, pounding depths for nearly a thousand years, a presence under the undulating surface with no true form beyond a vague sense of being. Lolling and drifting, she spread like a drop of ink, but never left the waters surrounding the ruins of what had been a mighty castle, the home of the ancient gift-bearer kings. Her memory, still perfect after all this time, recalled those days when the iolite-laced walls were tall, unscarred, and whole and when torches blazed with life and light. She had been born here, in that time once upon a time and had spent her life among the people who had lived within the stone walls. She’d walked the derelict stone corridors, smelled the fresh sweetness of the night-blooming flowers in the gardens, sat on a throne in the great hall, and slept in a lonely tower. That tower with secret winding steps…

She had lived here, loved here, hated here, and died here.

And now she waited, as she had waited for a millennia. All but one had passed beyond her senses, vague as they were beneath the icy waters. When she first woke to this existence all those years ago, it was with no knowledge of what she waited for, merely the awareness that she must wait. It did not take long for understanding to come. At first she felt them almost unceasingly. For centuries the consciousness of what she’d set into motion filled her until the flood slowed into a trickle, then a slow, steady drip. Friends, enemies, strangers, she felt them all and knew she would continue here until all those alive when she last drew breath were gone from the Realm of Light. The passing centuries gave her time to think, to reflect, to know. Her new life was no punishment, but a chance to heal, not just her own Spirit but countless others. And so she waited as the waves washed her Spirit clean of hate. They broke over her, broke within her, shattering and reforming her with each new tide. There was pain but she welcomed it. Centuries more passed with endless tides until only one remained. Only one. Just one.

Until now.

He was here, on the beach beneath the ruins. She sensed it. She sensed him.

At last, she and the water breathed with a releasing sigh. A ripple stirred across the frothy surface as she drifted upwards, gathering into a solid form that coalesced in the breaking of a white-capped wave. Suddenly she was, again for the first time in an age.

He watched the crashing waves, watched the violet-blue water crash down upon itself and turn white. He saw the water gather and fall and the woman form from the sparkling droplets. The fire of her hair caught the scant sunlight and shone, as vibrant as he remembered. It framed her ivory face beckoningly, and for that moment he believed she could truly be a sea siren, a being born of the depths and wilds of the water. By all the Spirits she was just as achingly lovely as ever, so beautiful, pain lanced across his chest, leaving him breathless. Her full wine-colored lips pursed in thought and her golden eyes bore into him as only hers could, leaving him feeling foolishly young – a sensation he had neither felt nor remembered in nearly a lifetime.

For moments they did nothing but stare, lost in thoughts and memories at the sight of each other. Years, centuries, a lifetime faded until they were once again the two people from a story lost to time.

Unused to speech, she fought to remember how to form the words that she must. With slow deliberateness, she opened her lips and thrilled at her voice – a strange tinny thing she no longer recognized above the waves. “Hello little boy,” she said with only a hint of mockery. Kindness, familiarity, and a deep respect echoed in her words. He grinned nervously and ran an elegant hand through his short dark hair. There was still something within her, even now, that left him with that embarrassing sense of immaturity. No one but she had ever made him feel that way, and now nearly a thousand years later he slipped back into the awkwardness of youth.

She smiled seeing his sudden uncertainty and knew she was a bit naughty to tease him so. The boyish vampyre she had known was no longer, this man before her was a hero, a legend in his own right. Even she had heard whispers of his greatness on the depths of the darkness. She had seen the possibility of such a man shining in the boy’s eyes all those years ago and now felt a strange pride in knowing he had become the man she thought he could be.

“I knew it would be you,” her voice carried across the water effortlessly to where he stood on the shore. The air was still and cool against her exposed flesh, but she did not shiver in her thin silk gown. The surging water kept her warm, tugging and pulling at her waist before rising again to brush the underside of her breasts. The tide was slow, hypnotic. “I knew.”

He nodded, not bothering to ask how, there was no point. He had known she was here, not at first, but over the centuries he felt her, heard tales of a water maiden, and knew she waited.

“I’m sorry to have kept you,” he replied, not sorry to have lived his life but that hers had not been. That she had been kept from him for all this time, even after all they had suffered before those last dark days. The injustice of it flashed like a fire beneath his pale skin. Had they not suffered enough in life? Was this really…

“Yes,” she nodded peacefully, knowing well where his thoughts were. “This was necessary.”

A stubborn gleam filled his onyx eyes as his sensuous mouth turned downwards. “But…”

“Nothing. What’s done is done my friend, and for a greater purpose than we may ever understand.” Spoken aloud, the truth of it all reverberated deep in their bones. The last of whatever kept her tied to the sea faded, releasing her to take one small step towards land, towards the fallen castle, towards him. One step, then another, and another until breathless and invigorated she stood in the shallows with only wavelets lapping at her toes. She hesitated then, frightened now that freedom was so close. What if she had it wrong? What if it was taken from her now when she wanted it most?

The man who had been the greatest vampyre king noted her sudden fear and held out a strong hand for her. The foolish youth was gone, he was once again the man he had been for centuries now. The man who never forgot the suffering and strength of this woman he had so missed.

She took his hand with a determined grin, exhilarated at his strength as well as her own as she stepped onto the sandy shore, walking a few steps until she was sure she was free. Joy, elation, excitement, and a small taste of sadness at leaving her home nearly overwhelmed her, crashing over her head like a breaking wave. He squeezed her hand questioningly and realizing she held her breath, she let it go, opening her eyes. Her lips curled into an adventurous, triumphant smile that was mirrored on his own up-turned lips.

“Are you ready My Lady?” he asked, feeling now an insistent tug on the edge of his consciousness. It urged him onward, their time was almost at an end. He did not want to forget her, but perhaps oblivion would right the wrongs of all those years ago. Perhaps they would all do better, be happier, this time. He certainly hoped so, for their sake if no other.

She felt the same tug, the same hint that time was finally coming to an end on this life. What would the next one bring for them all, all the players in the game that was her old life? “Yes,” she said slowly, turning towards the sun. Whether it was rising or falling, she struck out to meet it and he fell into step beside her. “Yes, I’m ready.”

They walked in silence for a time, the tug growing more persistent with every step, until he spoke one last time. “Did you ever see him?”

“No,” she whispered, picturing his face as she remembered it, knowing this was the last time Elesain would remembered Fallon. Their story was finally over, no one would remember him again as she did now. No one would remember her. With a sigh, she met Treyuston’s gaze as they continued walking, hand in hand.

“But I will.”

*This is set in the same land as my first novel Believe and is a short companion story to a future novel I haven’t written yet. I don’t normally jump ahead to future books (usually, though I have done so a bit with Ashes), but this was playing continuously in my head and I wanted to get it down before it disappeared! Hopefully it’s not too confusing, though I know you have no idea who these people are or what happened to them. Suffice it to say the title of the novel this goes with is Wrath, and that should give you some insight 😀

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Careful

Well my lovelies, I’ve searched and searched for pictures that bring to mind this week’s challenge (Careful) but I guess most of my pictures aren’t about being careful so much as living a little! So really I only found one that brought being cautious to mind.

This was one of the first pictures taken my very first day of classes at FSU my freshman year. Walking to class, I was terrified, lonely, desolate, and trying so carefully to keep myself together when all I wanted to do was crumble and break into a thousand little pieces.

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Thankfully things improved with time and this terrifying place became my home away from home, a place where I carefully, deliberately, wildly, and unexpectedly became myself. 😀

***

P.S. WordPress just informed me that this is my 200th post! *Happy dance* Thank you for all the support and friendship my lovelies and here’s to the next 200!

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Sea Salt

Hello my lovelies, since I wrote about the importance of fairy tales earlier this week, I figured I’d post what I have so far of a Selkie fairy tale that I’m writing. It’s rough and no where near completion, but I love the images in it anyway. I hope you like it!

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google.
All Rights Belong To Artist.

SEA SALT

Salt was everywhere; it swirled up from the deep, grey water beneath the boat and clung heavy to the mist that swayed to the hypnotic rhythm of the choppy sea. Coarse and pungent, it ate away at the aging metal that barely kept the craft afloat and roughened the skin and the hearts of the men who busied themselves around the deck. Abril Ansley had never seen so much salt and endless grey in her entire life. The ocean that stretched between the Orkney Islands and the long-awaited Ireland was a vast canvas of swirling grey and white, matching her melancholy perfectly. She sat quiet and ignored on the back deck of the small fishing vessel whose captain had reluctantly allowed her to travel with them, provided she stay out of the crew’s way and not cause any trouble amongst the men. Little to fear there.

The men aboard the Fey Daughter were good natured enough, friendly even after seeing that she would cause no trouble, but Abril was not in the mood to be surrounded by a group of gossipy, superstitious old men. She kept to herself, preferring to sit alone in her little spot, staring at the horizon and occasionally drifting a hand in the frozen water. The crew thought her odd, touched by the faeries, or so she had overheard once or twice, but she never corrected them. It hurt too much to think of explaining the truth; besides, they would laugh at her if they thought she was moping after some boy back in Orkney. He was just a boy, she reminded herself, a boy who lied. The truth, however sugar-coated, was still a bitter draft to swallow.

Icy wind whipped long strands of salt-encrusted hair into Abril’s damp face, smudging the tears she didn’t know had fallen down her stinging cheeks. Wiping a pale hand over her dark eyes, she cleared her throat and sat up straighter; there was no use looking back, not when Ireland loomed so close in her future. Beautiful, sacred Ireland, the home of her mother’s people; she was coming home to a place she had only ever dreamt of.

“Beggin’ your pardon Miss Abril, but we’ll be putting into port today; sometime round five I’d say, yeh might want to be gettin’ your things together.”

“Thank you Captain.”

Abril smiled up at the weather-beaten face of a rather handsome, albeit graying, man in his late forties. Gruff and tired, Captain Liam O’Conner loomed over her, tall, dark and solid; a man forged from the rigors of living a life on the sea. He had little time to waste worrying over a small thing of a lass, but something in her weary frame touched his heart. Perhaps it was her eyes, so open and brave, with the smoke of pain shifting beneath the surface. Someone had used her ill, he’d bet his cap on it but he would never ask; she didn’t seem like the talkative type and he wasn’t one to pry into business not his own.

He stood silent for a moment, expecting her to up and go below to pack what little she had brought but when she didn’t he sighed and bent down to cup her tender face with one large callused hand. “Buck-up chick, there’s no better place for healin’ that the soil of Erin, she’ll put yeh back to rights before yeh know it.”

Abril smiled wide and beautiful, easing into the mask of happiness that comforted those who were unnerved by her somber reserve. “I’m sure it will, thank you. I’ll go and pack now if you please.”

Liam stepped back to let the girl pass, not fooled by her beguiling smile for a moment but content to let her alone, “There’s a lass. Another two hours and we’ll be home.”

“Home.”

~~~~~

“Is your stuff ready for port? We’ll be docking within the next twenty minutes or so, depending on the tide.”

Abril nodded, shivering despite the added warmth of the extra sweater she’d thrown on before leaving her cabin for the last time. “Packed and ready.”

They stood in silence for a minute or two, each breathing in the tangy ocean air before Abril continued, “I think a week at sea is exactly what I needed. I wanted to thank you again Captain…for taking me along. I appreciate it more than you know…”

Liam shuffled, uncomfortable with the polite thanks, “Aye, that’s enough of that talk lass. For all that you’re a quiet thing, you’ve been good company for a group of salty old men. We’ll not be forgettin’ yeh. Now if this damnable fog would just life you’d be able to see the shore, but as that’s unlikely now I’d advise yeh goin’ and sitting in your spot and keepin’ a close eye on the water. The seals should be about here somewhere.”

A real smile lighted across Abril face like the sun glimmering upon the morning water, “Seals? Really?!”

“Aye, seals are protected in Ireland, sacred some calls ‘em but the little lechers are always tearing up my nets! But they’re always here and about this time of the year so you’re sure to see one sooner or later. Steady there Ronald! What are you two doing…?”

With the Captain’s attention occupied elsewhere Abril drifted down to the lower deck and peered over the edge of the boat expectantly. The water was close enough that she could easily dunk her arm under the surface up to her elbow, but there was no sign of any of the Captain’s seals. She sighed; I wish I could see one, just one. An idea suddenly gripped her as her mother’s favorite phrase echoed in the recesses of her mind: `you cannot receive without first giving’! Abril ripped the thin silver chain that lay warm around her neck and held it up to inspect. The single pink pearl that Jack had given her months before dangled precariously in the middle of the silver ropes. What could it hurt to try, she was Irish after all, maybe they would hear her? Spirits of the water please, I wish to see a seal. Take this gift as my payment to you, pressing the pearl to her lips one last time Abril flung the necklace as far away from the boat as she could manage. A small splashy plop was her only satisfaction, it landed somewhere out in the swirling mist; the bitter part of her mind wanted to watch it sink down into the inky blackness.

With a renewed fervor, Abril leaned again over the ledge; the wet wood bit into her soft hands, leaving behind tiny flecks of green wood buried into her palms. Minutes passed but still there was nothing but the continuous rippling of waves lapping against the hull; “Damn it.” Defeated, Abril plunked her head down on the warped wood and wrapped her arms out in front of her with her fingers splaying atop the water. Planting her legs firmly on the deck she moved to lie on her stomach across the ledge.

Snakeskin

SNAKESKIN

Will my words never come out right?

Will I forever be misunderstood?

A phrase, a whisper, a laugh

Uttered in peace

So quickly framed in darkness.

At fault, prodder, malcontent.

Ever the bearer of poison

To sicken the happiness

Of those I love and fear.

Never have I worn these hateful robes.

This snakeskin does not fit,

It chafes and burns and stings and pinches.

Until I resent my state.

Bound, a player at your leisure,

I suffer your condemnation,

Almost forgetting the truth.

But still I wonder…

Why am I your darkness?

Why have you made yourself mine?

When I wrote this poem I so clearly saw a picture in my head and I tried my best to copy it down onto paper, but unfortunately I was not given my mother’s talent and skill with regards to drawing, lol! That being said and you all now forewarned about my meager ability, here is my drawing of the Snakeskin Maiden…

 

The Snakeskin Maiden

Dreaming Of Ashes

Here’s a little snippet from one of my WIP’s called Ashes, (I call this scene Mother). I hope you enjoy! 😀

It’s been over twenty years and I still dream about her nearly every night. Her copper eyes – my eyes –twinkle back at me from an unearthly lovely face framed by dark, flowing black hair as she laughs –a throaty, feminine sound – at something I cannot see or do not remember. The crown of blue ink stands out vividly against her pale brow, and I long to trace those entwined lines with my fingertips again, feeling the slight ridge where marked skin meets flawless porcelain. Her face is as familiar to me now as it was then; other details of that life long ago have faded, but not this. Often I find her near our home, standing amid the stark beauty of the reddish-brown desert with the heat of the sun bearing down upon us both as we search each other’s faces for traces of the passage of time. There are other faces in these dreams as well – dark, blurry images – that leave me with a tingling sensation of home and something lost, but always I reach for her.

At times she evades me and hides in the darkness of the place I cannot enter, a place she won’t let me near. The darkness is off-limits, a place out-of-bounds and forbidden, even here in my own dreams. Don’t…don’t look back.

Some nights she weeps there in the darkness and for a brief moment I can see her stretched over-top a pile of stones where she slumps into herself, broken and sobbing, asking me where I’ve been, why I’ve not come to find her yet. Help me…help me Ryzan, she begs before she begins screaming, those awful, tearing screams that haunt me and leave me shaken and drained for days afterward. Her piercing voice shifts from agonizing howls of pain, to gorge-rising screams of fear, before finally becoming the guttural shrieks of rage, so filled with hatred that I’m suddenly thrust back, forced from her presence as though shoved by a full-blooded vampyre.

From these dreams, I always awake trembling and reaching for her, fearing that once again I am lost and knowing that for a moment, she had been near enough to grasp. Thankfully these dreams are few, and most nights I merely see her smiling face haloed by the buttery, yellow light of the desert sun – the face of my memory – and I know. She is out there still, waiting for me to find her.

One day I will.

Image From GoogleAll Rights Belong To The Artist

Image From Google
All Rights Belong To The Artist

The Edge Of The World

I don’t know why, but I feel like giving you all a little back story for this poem before you read it so that you understand where it comes from. The Edge of the World is a poem a I wrote a few years ago when I started college and fell into a anxiety-ridden depression for a few months after having to leave home to attend a University three hours away. Three hours doesn’t sound like much, but for me it was an eternity (especially since I didn’t have a car). I would no longer be able to wake up and stumble into the next room and have my family be right there, like they always had been for eighteen years. I know most teenagers long for the day when they can leave home and finally live on their own, but I was never one of them. I am a family person all the way and a proud Momma’s Girl. So needless to say, the first three months of college life were an absolute misery, I’ve never cried so much in my entire life as I did those months and I hope never to again. I’d never experienced such fear and pain, literal pain. Every morning when I woke, as soon as my eyes flicked open,  I immediately felt this suffocating weight crash down upon my chest, splintering my ribs, and it stayed there until I fell fitfully asleep every night. I’d been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder during my senior year of high school and had experienced the horror of an panic attack, but this crushing pain and sadness was more than I had ever felt before, it was very nearly too much.

Over time though, as I relaxed bit by aching bit, I realized what my family and friends had known all along: I needed this. I needed to find out who I was apart from everyone I knew. I needed to learn how to live with just myself (not that I’m one of those clueless college kids who arrives on campus not knowing how to do their laundry, that’s not what I mean lol). There was a purpose for all of this suffering…go figure. Once I adjusted to the new life I was living, I realized that it wasn’t so bad; there were even moments that I enjoyed immensely when I forgot to be sad for a little while. I still  missed my mother terribly every single day, but I went to class and saw friends and went shopping and lived…I was so surprised to discover that I was living my life. I was living…I was okay, not perfect, but fine enough for the time being. Things got better everyday after those first three months, little by little (though I backslid everynow and then, but hey I’m only human lol). And when I returned for my second year I discovered that while I continued to miss my family, I was happy to be back at school. Imagine that…I was happy.

But back to the poem, I wrote this one afternoon (near the end of those first three months) as a friend and I drove home for the weekend. I was feeling better, but still not fully myself and wondered if I ever would feel normal again. We were crossing over a bridge and I looked out to where the water touched the sky and wondered…what if that is the edge of the world? Could I walk up to it and look down at the universe? What if I fell…did I want to fall?

The Edge of the World:

I’ve been to the edge of the world,

And peered below into the darkness;

Seen the vastness of eternity, and held my breath.

Icy waters rushed past my bare feet. Burning cold.

Searing flesh, freezing memories.

 

I’ve straddled the edge of the world,

Dangling one leg on each side; waiting to choose

To finally choose…unsure but desperate.

Seeking relief, needing relief

Demanding relief.

 

I’ve leaned over the edge of the world,

Seen the whole of the universe waiting,

Felt myself break into a thousand sharp pieces.

Still unsure of letting go, breaking free,

Of giving up to the unknowns of forever and eternity.

 

I’ve decided my fate at the edge of the world,

Resolved to pull back, to tread the waters home.

And feel each stab of pain

Like rays of sunlight on my face.

To try, again and again and again.

 

I’ve survived temptation at the end of the world,

Fought back the false promises of peace;

Destroyed the source of the whispered words.

Tore down the lies, the promises of artificial escape.

Stood up again and backed slowly away.

 

I’ve lost a part of myself to the edge of the world,

Straying so close comes with a heavy consequence;

And now part of me is lost forever:

My mind, my heart, my soul, my sanity.

I can never be whole again.

 

I’ve been to the edge of the world,

And found my way back home again,

Determined to try the game once more.

Knowing there will always be a part of me that is tainted,

Ruined and panic-driven by the wilds of forever and eternity.