About“If I could walk on the air...perhaps I would see what the sea of trees hides from me...” She whispered, wishing there was some way for it be true.
The sky was clear, save for the highest, wispiest clouds. The sun was warm, and the breeze cool, rushing through the leaves of the ocean of green she lived in. The tinkling of crystal surrounded the shrine, chymes made of the special mineral hung from the trees expertly so they would always be melodious as opposed to a haphazard noisy mess. They were beautiful, reflecting the sunlight, filling the shrine and clearing with spots of coloured light.
Sitting upon her boulder, the woman was clad in the armour of her race – the forest elves, who were so attuned to their home that they could take on characteristics of plants themselves. Today she appeared simply an elf though – 'simply' including the serious armour of a ranger, clad in tough leathers and some mail... her bow was nearby, not far from her hand, her quiver on her back – ever ready for battle.
It was the shrine she sat before that gave cause for the armour and weapons – a shrine built in honour of their earthly mother, a goddess of life, of harvest, of love and life. There was always a guard, to protect the shrine from the warring troll clans, or from travellers who misunderstood it's significance. Of course, it was also her duty to pass on the goddess' message as much as it was to protect her statue, haloed in sunlight. But, truth be told...she'd seen little of the world for quite some time. It used to be a regular ritual, elven kind and the fae would come to offer prayer or thanks. Others of the mighty forest realm would as well, though not as often. It was rare trouble came along, as if the goddess' effigy itself discouraged violence and intrusion into such a holy place.
She had lost track of time though. She truly could not properly recall the last time anyone had come along and prayed beneath her watchful gaze. Her duty forbade her from leaving the shrine and the immediate woods surrounding it – and she had been true to her duty since she had been awarded the honour to protect their mother goddess...but not without wishing to see the world too. Countless times she had watched the eagle soar high above, or gazed at the quiet deer that would come through the clearing, passing on through to better grazing elsewhere. How she yearned to follow them, to see what they could see.
She did not regret her position, not at all...but it was a lonely one, and she had stopped speaking to the statue many months passed.
Months? She couldn't be sure.
Lost in her wandering thoughts, she almost didn't hear it - -the snap of a twig, signalling someone's approach!
Quietly, but quickly, she grabbed up her bow, silently slipping an arrow from her quiver and knocking it against the bow and already had to half-drawn before she realized that she wasn't meant to outright attack visitors....
If it was a visitor, if it was a--
Whatever it was seemed to have stopped moving, but she could make out a shadowed form just beyond the tree-line. She waited, possibly for a minute or two before the thing came out into the open – hands held above his head, clothes travel worn and foreign, certainly not something she recognized..., and somehow covered in what looked like soot...it was only a human, and he didn't appear to be armed either.
Relaxing her stance slightly, her eyes picking out small details – the crinkles in the corners of his eyes, the speckled blue of colour of his irises, his dark hair that seemed as sooty as the rest of him. She frowned, hopping off her boulder to address him. “Hail, traveller...welcome to the shrine of our Goddess.” She paused, allowing him a chance to respond.
If he meant to, he had forgotten as he stared at her, his eyes wide and his mouth open slightly.
Was it awe? Often humans were enamoured of elves, but this looked like something more along the lines of disbelief... He nearly stumbled, staring at her and not where he was going and his cheeks flushed red. Glancing at his feet, he adjusted himself before looking at her again, and then around the clearing, his eyes squinting slightly, as if he wasn't sure where he was or what he was looking at.
Left with his silence, she frowned and glanced around herself, wondering if she hadn't been clear. Or did he not speak common? He did seem to be from far away...she did not even recognize the materials his clothes were made of...and why were they so torn and patchy? Was he a beggar? What was a beggar doing in the middle of a great forest? Her frown deepened, suspecting something was a miss here...but she couldn't claim just what yet. “Was there a fire?”
The man's head snapped back in her direction, his eyes widening considerably as if she'd asked something terrible. Truly, a fire would be bad...but to her, his reaction seemed rather dramatic. “A...well, yes, there was....several years ago....” His voice began to fade, as if speaking of the time was hard on him.
Lifting an eyebrow, cocking her head to the side slightly, she asked “Where?”
The man did not look away, but frowned, becoming quite serious. “Here.”
For a long moment she simply watched him, trying to make sense of what he was saying. Clearly his mind was addled. 'There has never been a fire here...the forest would have told me if there was a fire so close to Her shrine....” She tried to explain to him.
For a few seconds he squinted at her, then he blinked and at once the man's eyes saddened. “Of course...you're just a memory...” He whispered, his voice breaking as if his very heart ached. Tears even began to spring to his speckled blue eyes!
Blinking, she frowned even deeper. “A memory? What are you talking about, human? There has never been a fire here – I would know! I have been stationed here most of my life! Perhaps you should pray to the goddess, to soothe whatever ails you.......” She suggested, though for some reason his comments were alarming in a way she didn't understand. As if he was somehow threatening her...but he was only standing there, crying!
Looking away from her anger-filling eyes, his own searched the ground. He took a step forward, a little to the side, pushing his toe at the green grass as if looking for something. He said nothing to her, and she said nothing, only watched him. After many moments, his search taking him ever closer to the statue of the goddess, he finally paused with a soft “Ah!” and bent to retrieve what he was looking for. He then turned to her and held it out to her, offering it like a gift of some sort.
Having watched his progress and growing more uneasy with him, she had been about to ask him to step away from the statue when he offered her what looked to be some form of stone. She looked from him to it and back again, her furrowed brow showing clearly she did not trust him. Still, he stood there, holding it out to her. For many minutes more, the only sound was the wind in the trees,a and the song of the Wind Chymes that surrounded the shrine...and that of the man's breathing. It seemed...troubled, as if he truly were sick. And standing closer now, the soot seemed worse somehow, she could see how in some places it wasn't likely to come out of his skin or clothes...and only when his arm began to shake from the strain of holding it aloft, she took the stone.
Immediately, she wished she hadn't.
As soon as she closed her fingers around it, the sharpest pain took her in the heart, forcing her to gasp for air that wouldn't come.
She no longer saw this wandering, strange man, no....
The sky was red.
The roar of the trees was as much from the storm of violence that ravaged it as it was from the very beings that forced their way through it without a care. An army, of behemoths built of bony spines, fangs, black claws and soulless eyes...
She stood at her post, firing arrow after arrow into the daemons that invaded the sanctity of the shrine – her home! Her forest! Her life! The smell of the forest burning filled her nostrils, the screams of life itself being raped again and again filled her pointed ears, and rage and agony fuelled the boiling of her blood.
As soon as her arrows were spent she leaped upon the nearest monstrosity with a ferocity only a wyldling could possess. The twin elven blades were extensions of her arms, her feet agile and light as ever as she danced with death through the mass of bodies that converged on her.
It was not to last...as she knew the odds were impossible. She was flying through the air before she truly felt it – a heavy weight on her torso before the shattering force with which she hit the statue of her goddess, her protector. Despite her sudden inability to breathe or move, tears streamed in rivers down her cheeks as her wide eyes took note of pieces of the statue crumbling round her.
And then the pain, as she realized there was the long blade pinning her there, so huge it had shattered her ribs as much as pierced through her. All too soon, her world went dark, with not an answer from her mother, her saviour...whom she had protected for so long.
She was watching her body now...the battle had inevitably moved on...and she saw her body. Like she had the first time....before....
There was rubble from the statue and glittering dust covering most of her body.
Few chymes remained in what trees survived the fire, the beautiful crystal turned black from the fire that had raged throughout her land. She could see...forever. Black and gray and dead. Everything.
Even so, she saw movement upon her body. The fluttering of coloured wings, and she realized they were butterflies...feeding on her!
She felt no revulsion, she knew that this was how life and death worked...yet she stood here watching the beautiful wings, clustering around the gaping hole in her body's chest.
Why, goddess...was I not for your heavenly sky after all?
The deepest pain filling her, she closed her eyes, feeling as though her entire being had been betrayed. A wail escaped her then, her pain enough to create a last burst of power that shattered the vision around her.
An exclamation of pain broke her out of the nightmare and she glared at the human, yanking her hand back from the rock – a piece of her bones! - that he had offered her. She wanted to blame him, yell and scream and demand he let her forget again! How dare he break her peace! How dare he shatter her dream?!
And still...she knew she could not. What happened....happened long before he had ever been born. Looking around herself again, the shrine was gone. The grass was gone, the trees were gone. She stood in a desolation of cracked stone, of heat and death. Waves of heat shimmered in the air above the cracked earth.
Now she could see.
Finally, the man spoke, “...I'm sorry. I am so, so sorry...I seem drawn to places like this...where most ancient ghosts have held on......” His voice cracked again, and she realized he had seen what she had seen, he'd seen her broken body left behind to rot beneath dust and wings.
The anger left her, then. He was miserable, and somehow filled with a pain she knew she could not understand. To her own surprise, she held her hand to his cheek – in comfort. How strange....
“I can go on now...my vigilance is at an end...” She said softly, already feeling lighter, and saw that her hand was no longer corporeal.
“As will we all soon, spirit....I pray you find rest...I wish......I wish we had not forgotten so early in our days...that is why you fell...and so many others....” He whispered, placing his hand on hers...only to have it pass through and touch his own cheek. But he did not seem to care, and she realized that he suddenly seemed much older than he looked. His words made her frown, though now in confusion than in suspicion. “My dear...your faith never wavered...but the rest of the world's did. Time, and time again...and finally my race became so arrogant, that it removed itself from nature entirely....and then returned to pillage and destroy it. I'm sorry...for all that we've done, though you were gone long before us, it seems....still.....”
She understood as much as was possible – she had not suffered the centuries to come, she had trapped herself in a vision of her love, her life. She wished she could do something, but already she was fading, and she felt herself going...and then.......
The man was left alone, in the middle of the desert he had been trudging through for days. He wiped away the tears from his eyes only to smudge them with soot again, getting to be as thick as ink now. How many ghosts would he encounter before he would be allowed his own rest.
A breeze kicked up around his feet, and he was startled to hear the elven ranger's voice, soft and nearly inaudible, yet the wind carried it still;
“The wind is in the chymes...
Whispering its song, such sweet melody...
My soul takes a breath
As if the world's not dark...
A gasp of air I've yet to taste
Reminding me...it doesn't have to be too late... “
The message was as startling as it's arrival, and he strained his ears, waiting for something more. But nothing came. Sighing, he nodded and began his trek once more, puffs of soot rising around him as he went. So far he had seen only lands of ash, the fires of great wars done and gone....very few people, or animals were left...but on he would go. The last rumours he had ever heard had mentioned places to the south that had survived, had been missed when the bombs fell...perhaps....there was a chance, a small one...that they could try again. Taking the elf's faith in the earth to heart, he managed a small smile as he disappeared into the black land, beneath the blistering sun.
I am not religious...however I do have certain beliefs based on experiences, and upon nature. Not just trees and rocks and water and fire, but in behaviour too. On patterns and observing what intricacies of the web of life that I can. And I revere it, I am in awe of it, and deep beneath the spirituality and the scientific 'seeing'...there is also 'feeling'. No, I don't really believe in a 'goddess'. I believe in Earth. I believe in the power of chaos and order that has created life - and no, I don't believe I need to fully understand how it was all put together in order to love and respect it. And no, I don't believe I need anyone else to share my beliefs about it - I have found solace in my faith in a power beyond our imagination.
However this story refers a to a goddess, as such it's reflective of how older cultures humanized natural events (or monster-fied them) in order to explain them and make sense of the world around them (that, back then, they knew dwarfed them considerably).
This story also references how ancient cultures are forgotten. Swept under the rug by time or by war. And it bothers me right down to my core that we ourselves have destroyed so much human culture. It's horrifying, to find the records describing how one sub-species of man ousted another, and often for something as ridiculous as a greed for conquest, treasure, or worse, a difference in beliefs. And now, we're waging a drawn out war on our home - ALL of OUR home - as we destroy, pollute, uproot, pillage and rape the natural world around us. For profit, for medication, for expansion, to feed ourselves, to warm and clothe ourselves.
We, the most evolved brains...are destroying the world around us, the only one we've got. At this point someone will suggest space stations or Mars.......do you really think that will happen? A second chance in space? If we have not taken steps to solve our problems in a way that co-exists with our own planet, there is no way those problems will vanish simply by moving a percentage of us into space. WE have an issue, and its inside us and how we've been living for the last several centuries. We need to fix US so we can then help heal what we can, and understand the wrongs we've done.
I come to the last piece of my faith, my belief, my heartfelt wishes....magic. Elves? Has there ever been any evidence of elves? No, there hasn't -- but that's not the point. We still have stories about elves, orcs, trolls, hobbits, wizards, dragons, phoenix, gryphons, etc -- we love these stories and re-tell them and re-make them and embellish them and they've survived a long while because deep down ALL of us wish there was a bit of magic in the world (imo). Even when it comes to religion, everyone everywhere really doesnt want to face the dirty fact that death just might be the end. Nothing after, nothing but maggots eating your corpse. People don't like to think of it that way, it's nicer to imagine a heaven. A happy place your soul can go to, or simply your soul finding Nirvana, or rejoining life in it's ever-turning circle. (Honestly, when you wish so much for a heavenly afterlife, why do so many people insist on believing in a hell? Isn't life difficult enough at times, do we really need to believe that some people don't deserve peace in death? why do we judge so terribly when we wont even admit to ourselves all our own faults, how the heck do we find justification to damn others at all? How dare us all).
Why isn't there magic now?
Because we stopped believing. Magic is belief as much as belief can be faith. It's love, it's laughter, it's adventure, it's mysterious and completely out of our control - and we love to hate it to love it for being so.
Stories...are important. Remembering lessons..losses...loves...tears...to be truly ourselves, we should never ignore the bad simply to feel better. The world is full of balance, carefully measured against the constant change and upheaval (in nature and in our own version of the world). Being true to ourselves...or rather, being truer. We can surpass what we believe is 'typically human'. We can be better.
Its our choice.
Viewing 12 of 22 friends
Mostly poems, lyrics, sometimes weird dreams or rants....
"Can't take the Sky from me."