Greyling Deeps


Something bright, shiny and new I hope to begin work on this fall. In the meantime, WYSIWYG applies.

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A Green Man

 

 

Greyling Deeps

 

In the time after the battle, Taliesin gathered together the remnants of his people. This day had made him king over them. It should have been his wedding day to Angharad, now lying dead at his feet. He must bid her a final farewell, along with other shattered corpses.

The hurt went too deep for tears. Each gathered around the bodies of their own lost kin. Taliesin strode over to his mother and father, fallen where they had made their last stand. The words came unbidden to release a magic chant. Power built deep within. He released it over them to seep into their mangled bodies, restoring their beauty but not their lives. They sparkled before they dissolve into tiny motes, and then reformed as ethereal shapes, clutching hands as they drifted off into the west, dissipating.

The hardest farewell of all remained—Angharad, of the sunshine hair and alabaster skin. Angharad with her sweet nature and ready laugh, his own true love, forever lost to him. Pain cramped his heart, made the black thoughts come, but he was king. He could not follow his love into death. Instead, he gave her all of her beauty back, restoring her from a mangled horror, and then released her. Unlike the others, her spirit turned, holding out a hand to him, her smile sorrowful and yet loving. Tears streamed down his cheeks. His hands remained locked at his side, shaking with the need to join with her. She diminished on a sigh of wind and longing.

Others stood gray-faced, making similar farewells. Scores of spirit children left laughter in their wake, while their parents shook with grief. Why did the humans have to kill innocent children? What ill-chance had led them to the hidden crèche?

“Taliesin, what should we do? Where must we go?” Tathor, his younger brother asked.

All of them looked at him, but many eyes turned to the west—the path of the spirits. They had prevailed this day at a cost beyond bearing. A battle won, and yet a war lost.

“When the humans return, we will be gone.” Not where he wanted to go, where they wanted to go, but the land needed them, would always need them. “With their warlike natures they will need a new enemy. Man will turn on man until man is no more.”

“Do you free us to choose the paths of the dead?” Tathor’s face gained a spark of life. He too had lost his beloved.

“No. Here at the heart of our land we will remain until nature calls to us once more. I charge you all with the sleep of forever in the heart of the rock until the times comes for awakening.”

 

***

 

Raw, burning magic stirred through the cobwebs of the ages. A shriek of primeval fear dragged Talisin into waking. This was not the call of nature—it was something else. Wary, he chose an ethereal form to survey the scene outside his rock.

A girl wearing a tattered assortment or rags fled through an ice field in mindless panic from a blood-spattered, man-sized lizard. The creature walked on its hind legs and had metal things on a belt around its waist. It tracked the girl, who now hiding by an ice dam. Fragmented magic emanated from her, suggesting she wasn’t there; had fled further into a petrified forest. Not enough to deter this creature. It now held a metal thing that pinged when it aimed at her location.

How many years had he slept? This creature had no part of his world, and the girl, a human, had magic? He needed answers, and for that, he needed her alive.

Elemental power rushed to fill his demand—many times greater than he had commanded before. He created a shield over the girl, giving her the invisibility she failed to make for herself. The creature shook his metal thing when it failed to ping and then moved on. After a while, the girl sobbed quietly, starting to move.

“Don’t go.” Talisin sent his thoughts to her mind. That he knew she understood him was a further indication of her magic. “If you leave, it will find you.”

She trembled like a startled deer. “Where are you? Show yourself.”

He changed his spell to one of holding. He didn’t want her to bolt, as she attempted when he took on his corporeal form. “I am not here to hurt you.”

“What are you?”

“Someone you called into wakefulness. What was that thing chasing you? I have never seen the like.”

A breeze lifted her hair and her human ears were clear to see, but she had magic. How had a human bonded with the source of power? His sympathy died, yet his interest remained.

She glared at him, not trusting. “Don’t you know about the war?”

“Humans are an aggressive species. They always make war. What is new in that?” He grew impatient. Maybe he should track the creature and leave this girl to a fate of her own making.

“Do you come from the stars, too?”

Much time had passed indeed if the invaders didn’t know their own origins. “No, this world was always ours from the beginning of time. This creature came from the stars?” As did she and all her warlike kin.

She shuddered. “When our wars ended, they came. All our weapons were spent. They harvest us for food.”

Taliesin let his thoughts drift into the icy wastes where a forest once stood. Vast hunger swirled from the mind of the star creature. It wanted blood … no, iron. The creatures searched for the metal as well as humans for food. He’d give them iron.

Across the frozen water rose a mountain and into that he directed his magic. Shuddering waves rippled over the ice, cracking and lifting it. A fissure opened up in the mountainside and out poured molten iron as red a blood but tainted with poison. The star creatures could take all, and in time, they would find they didn’t want more, those of them that survived.

He reached for the girl’s hand. “Come. We must wait for the stars to change again.”

“What do you mean? Have you a place to hide?”

“We sleep the sleep of the ages until the planet heals and nature rules all. Then we will awaken, you, I, and all of my people. Together we will remove all traces of things not meant to exist.

“I can’t hibernate. I don’t know how.” She tried to pull free of his power. A futile gesture.

“You have the magic so you will sleep the sleep. Come, it is time.”