15 Years Past
By Klaudaryn Armagh in Dark Ages, Deoch 5
Why do you remain silent so?
Memories sliding from this time,
To the one we used to share?
Is this the path you choose?
Forsaking love for your craft,
Forsaking a power we both had?
So farewell Aisling, for we are both young,
And reach for the star in your mind’s eye,
While I dwell on the waning light in mine;
Wishing for the moments,
Of fifteen years past.
Which would fuel your soul?
The glories of magical battle,
Or tears of love since lost?
Which would calm your heart?
A love forever beside you,
Or the steel of Aisling sword?
So farewell, for your star it calls you,
Your destiny yours to claim, it draws you,
While I yearn for and seek solace,
In the fading memories,
Of fifteen years past…
The lone figure stepped up to the edge of the cliff, his cloak billowing in the harsh winds. Leaning on his staff, he watched the rolling sea thrash against the rocks five hundred feet below him. At that height, the massive rocks with their razor sharp edges looked like unassuming pebbles, glistening in the waters of a gushing stream. It was today that they had agreed upon, a full cycle after the autumn equinox. A date agreed upon fifteen years ago. The man closed his eyes and breathed in slowly, letting the moist air wet his face.
“So this is how it has to be then?”
“I have to go. You know I have to...”
Why? The man drove his staff deeper into the sodden earth and exhaled. Fifteen years since they had parted. Another fifteen for when they first met. He was getting old. A sudden flash of lightning in the evening sky silhouetted his haggard figure against the briefly illuminated clouds. His tattered cloak barely covered the worn robes that draped off his bony shoulders.
Casting his gaze out to sea once again, he scoured the horizon for any sign of a ship… her ship.
Lines of power, lead my sight.
In his rain-drenched clothes, the wind seemed to bite deeper than ever before. He closed his eyes tightly as his mind rose above the gale, and for a moment, he looked upon the world as a god might have. Far to the south, he could see the ancient capital of Loures, with is shining spires and glittering arches. Within the great city, nobles gathered at the court of the king; each one adept in the age old rite of intrigue, a pack of vultures hovering over an aged Emperor. Outside the city limits, peasants toiled in the fields; each one dreaming of a better life, a way out of the dreariness. His gaze continued northwards, over the town of Piet, where humble townsfolk went about their daily chores, comfortable in the knowledge that they were part of Greater Loures- the capital of the Empire.
Further north, he travelled, over the massive mountain ranges that tore through the centre of Temuair; over the dark and foreboding mines where many adventurous aislings had perished foolishly. Over the Wastelands and the Eastern Woodlands he flew, feeling a tinge of melancholy as he thought he recognised the spot where he had first bloodied his hands on a hapless viper. Mileth flew by in a swift miasma of colour and sound as he began to pick up speed; young peasants barely noticing a soft breeze whispering through the village marking his passage. Abel now. Abel, gateway to the Northern Sea. Its cold and unfriendly streets chilled him more than the wind that blasted against his weathered face. This was where his wait began, fifteen years ago; the docks of Abel, at the northernmost edge of Temuair.
“Will you come back?”
“ ... I… if I said yes, would you wait for me?”
“… … … Fifteen years, the dream said. Watch for me from the cliff where we first met.”
“And if you do not return?”
“Then I will not return.”
Slowly, the vision in his mind began to dim; and he began to open his eyes again. Once again, he scanned the horizon, seeking out the ship that would bring her back to him. Often, he wondered what manner of dreams would be powerful enough to cause her to leave everything she knew and loved, and just take off. She had tried to explain them to him at first, but soon realised the futility in her efforts. Such sights could not be described by words, she had told him, for the visions she had seen were like nothing anyone had ever imagined. In the end, he had no choice but to let her go, for he knew she would never be happy again unless she completed that strange geas.
Lines of wisdom, grant me understanding.
Dreams. A sudden uplift of wind from over the edge of the cliff caught his wide brimmed hat at an angle, lifting it high into the gathering storm. The man merely looked up and watched as the hat, which had served him for six long years, was tossed in the wind and sent over the edge. Not uttering a single word, he recalled the recent dreams, which had plagued him ever since the equinox. Lush rolling plains of soft grass, speckled with a multitude of colours. He could not explain, whether they were flowers or gemstones or tendrils of magical flame, but they were just there; like something a person would not really notice until it went missing. On some nights, he would dream of gargantuan mountains, rising up into the heavens as far as the eyes could see and he could almost make out leathery winged beasts flapping about at great heights, as if scorning him for being surface-bound.
The dreams that bothered and at the same time fascinated him the most however, were those of the stars. He would envision himself lying in one of the lush dream plains, staring up at an unfamiliar night sky. Not a single constellation would he recognise at first. Gradually though, the names would come to him. Ghastly alien names, not meant to be uttered by a human mouth, and yet he soon knew them all by heart; and sometimes he would imagine a thousand million dreaming eyes staring right back at him.
“What do you see in your dreams then, that you insist you have to go?”
“I… it calls to me, love. I cannot explain it…”
“Surely you can try… if you can be resolute enough to go, I believe you at least owe me an explanation…”
“I… I see… sunken ancient cities… glorious and fantastic, with angles the mind cannot imagine. Dark stones glowing brightly, and temples with immeasurable dimensions. A sleeping god, which calls to me.”
“… And you think these are all real?”
“That is what I must find out. One day, you will see, love. I am not insane…”
Lines of purity, guide my soul.
Rousing slowly from his dreamlike trance, the man looked to the sea for the third time. In the descending gloom of twilight, he could still make out nothing except the swelling waves and approaching thunderheads. Humming the song he had written for her before she left, the old man unfastened the clasp around his neck letting the wind catch his cloak and float it over the cliff.
“May we meet on the other side, love…” were the last words uttered from his lips.
Lines of healing, shield my heart.
Children playing on the beach the next day found amongst the washed up seaweed and driftwood, a bloated and fish eaten corpse. They say the man had lost his wits four weeks ago and disappeared from his family home in Abel, yelling and screaming at his servants and wife as he barged his way out of the house never to be seen alive again. They say the man was a mildly recognised scholar, and a practitioner of the arcane arts. What they did not say, and did not know, was that the man had ceased to live, fifteen years ago.