Specters of the Void: Part 4
They were alive. The souls that haunted this deathly earth were alive; living beings, free in the world–or so they thought–but having no more repose than a poor beggar who knows not from whence his next meal shall come. Less they had, for while the beggar has hope, they had none. They were shadows, mists of this world, and until they could wake themselves from their terrible sleep mist they would remain. For in this world, what is in the mind forms in your surroundings. In you.
Now the moon knew. After seeing the mist that was alive, she had thought long and deep and had begun to stir the memories that dwelled within her. Every now and again one would surface, and she would at once latch hold of it, that it might not delve back into that deep place where all the worst secrets of this world dwelt. She had ignored her duty, which was to watch this world and see to it that nothing that should not be was, for too long. She watched without seeing, saw without looking. Cared not. But now she would be more careful. Even if she had not minded her conscience, which said to watch carefully, she would have anyway, for a mortal had entered her world, and not of the usual type. There had to be some purpose in his coming, but she knew not what. Then she remembered. She had been told long ago of this mortal… Mr. Skyless was his name.
She would not ask. So she saw less. But still she saw enough to ask, although not as soon as she could have had she asked first.
Still the sky was overcast. I groped about and presently my hand came into contact with one of the many trees. Touching the tree with one hand I arose and faced myself towards where I could still hear the music–though less audibly now–and proceeded to place one foot carefully in front of the other while holding my arms in front of me so as to keep from stumbling unawares into one of the many trees. In this way I continued for some time (I noted the voice never seemed to grow clearer or nearer than when I first heard it) for the moon still lay swathed in darkest clouds.
Then first I heard a crunch, and then another. It was my feet upon snow. I was not surprised; it was indeed chill enough for snow and ice. Only now did I surmise just how cold this dark land was. However, I had felt no snow beneath my feet before this moment, and I had a certain recollection of soft pine needles against my back when I had awaked in this odd land. These confused thoughts were distracted and fleeting however, and almost forgotten when the moon suddenly became fully unobstructed and my vision flashed black for a moment before adjusting fully. I was in a clearing of sorts–a natural clearing, no trees having been cut down to form it as far as I could see. It was rather large, and the ground was covered in snow.
Looking back the way I had come, I saw my tracks in the snow. I found that both they and the snow ended abruptly at the edge of the forest. Tilting my vision upwards, I saw the reason: the trees grow close together, and they’re branches wove into one another, providing almost a roof-like shelter to the forest floor. I imagined it must be warmer under a covering like that than where I was in the clearing, but strangely I had noticed no difference in temperature. The whole place was eerie–what with the white-silver snow reflecting the moonlight; the dark circle of trees surrounding me, and more disconcerting still a something large and most un-treelike swathed in shadows at the edge of the clearing across from me.
Suddenly I again heard the music–it seemed now it came from everywhere at once–the vibrations forming the tones and sounds becoming magnified so intensely that I thought my head would shatter! Still I did not cover my ears, for though it was painful I could still hear its beauty. On the contrary I smiled and closed my eyes. The music ceased as suddenly as it had started, and as if a wet lens had been lifted from before my eyes I saw clearly a stone castle, erect and elvish at the edge of the clearing before me. Somehow I knew it was from this that the song which had drawn me forward emanated.
I took a step towards the castle. Then another.
To be continued…
By Chaidie Petris