Unrestricted Comprehension

Fictionspawn Monsters

Unrestricted Comprehension

He wrote stories. Stories about people who didn’t write their own. It became an obsession. He wanted to write about them all, but he was nothing but a mere mortal. He lacked time.

He swore an oath. An oath to new gods and old, an oath to Mother Nature, to the universe itself. He swore an oath to Reason.

“If you only give me time, I will write a story about everyone who do not write about themselves. Every single one of them, and no one else. Ever.”

You will be given time, Reason said. If you succeed you will live forever. If you fail, I will take it all back.

The pact was sealed. He wrote. He wrote until he had written about each and every one of them.

Everyone but one. Himself.

Never had he written his own story, so his story had to be written. As he…

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The Fruit of Passion: Chapter 5-Part III

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No great shadow loomed above the well’s marble slab but, as Morella removed her silver bucket from deep within, she perceived on the water’s surface the face of a cloaked figure who had come to stand beside her.

The bucket full and secure in her arm, she furled the fingers of her left hand around the dagger hanging from her waist and whirled to look upon the stranger.

A woman at least forty summers her senior, she was clothed in a thin, gray, woolen cloak from head to feet. Tall, her poise stylized, her body holding a certain adroitness, she possessed deep-set eyes and a face whose lines seemed familiar with both great joyfulness and overwhelming grief as well as with the knowledge of the most secret of the secrets.

By the love of all that’s holy, greetings, my Lady! Many apologies if I startled you, but I‘ve travelled a long way to reach you.

By the love of Olwen, greetings! Who are you, Mistress?”

I’m called Annon Rhi, amongst other names, queen of the island of Alban Hefin.

”I’m Morella of Rumia, daughter of the former queen Blodwen. How can I help you? What is it you seek here?”

”A sword.”

”I’ll be happy to oblige you, but why come here for such a common request? Does your homeland lack swordsmiths?”

”If you can spare me but a moment, I’ll tell you my story.”

                                                       � � �

Annon Rhi didn’t become a temporary resident in the castle, quelling Morella’s concern by reassuring her that she never failed to provide for her own needs or replenish the sources of her nourishment.

Morella, having related the queen’s story to both Myrina and one of the swordsmithsLunedassigned them the processing of the task. Directing her words at Myrina, she said, ”Pour everything you’ve got into this blade. Magic is your gift, after all.”

Myrina complied. ”Yes, because language is my art. I fuse words into blood and gold.”

                                                          � � �

The swordsmith approached the small table and snagged two pieces of wax between thumb and forefinger, then lodged them within her ears and spilt forth a stream of prayer.

Myrina snatched the bag swinging back and forth from the edge of the table, and loosened the cord fastening its opening. Hefting the mandrake from the leather pouch, she threw all of itfrom the yellowish-brown, branched root, five pale blue petals, violet flowers to shiny, green leavesinto the blazes. A rampage of screams belched as if thousands of bodies were being flayed alive by the scalding pincers of scorpions, and the flames shot to the furnace’s roof, locked in a deadly battle.

By the blood that through me courses,

by the wash of tears the man has shed,

the priestesses shall be bound in a thread,

struck under the great queen’s forces.”

Shielded by the very magic that flowed in their veins, the plant’s piercing roar produced no effect upon the people of the arts in the castle while the artless of the household had mimicked Luned’s actions under Morella’s instructions, so as not to allow the unsparing fingers of madness or despair to seize and take hold of their soul.

As the mandrake yielded itself to the fire’s siege, Luned removed the wax and hunted with an iron rake for the new bloom that had made the bottom of the furnace chamber its bed. Heaving a few amorphous lumps, she placed them on the anvil’s surface. The newly smelted metal received endless strikes. Luned turned it over again and again, peeling away with her hammer the scorching spurts of slag. Ash and soot gradually fell away, the bloom constantly flattening.

Until the steel coruscated like a swarm of fireflies caught in a child’s net.

Very singular plant this mandrake, isn’t it?” Luned stood admiring their combined efforts.

”Yes, and deadly to those who lack the knowledge to master it. Legend has it that a man had fallen for a fae and, when she perished to continue her journey, he asked to be buried next to her while upright. Slowly, his body shifted and sprouted roots deep inside the earth and, when one’s hand tried to pull him out of the soil, he gave out a scream that rendered one mad beyond any hope of returning to sanity, for he couldn’t bear the thought of separation.

� � �

At the coming of the purple hours, the sky splashed the whole of Rumia—its plentiful hills, mirror-bright waters, wheat fields and dewy forest—with the juice of pressed oranges and sanguine strawberries. The evening dripped away as the gloaming bled through the heavenly fabric, and the dusk welled up all over the land.

As soon as Morella stepped into her chamber, her senses became electrified as a fiery shimmer flared up from across the room. Gown-clad in cobalt blue, Myrina was reclining on the bed, her lovely, cherry head ensnared between the dying embers of the flaming sun and the approaching darkness, her right hand propping her chin, the fingers of her left hand resting on her thigh.

Disrupting the serenity of her posture, she landed on her feet with a leap, sauntering towards Morella. Her lips mellowed, drawing apart in a smile like an oyster’s hinged shell.

”Drink up, sister.” She picked up a chalice flowing with red wine from the mahogany table, and brought it to the edge of Morella’s mouth. ”See how your victory tastes. You have good cause for celebration tonight.”

                                                                    � � �

Morella spread her palms on the table, upsetting the balance of the chalices remaining vertical when he knee knocked against the wood underneath. ”Still, why did the queen herself had to be the centre of attention? Why not another one?”

”Because strength is measured in union. The higher the forces behind a struck alliance, the greater the safety for the people. Whatever the nature of the challenges, don’t let your eyes stray from the target. Alliances are the end themselves.”

The faint light of a smile danced around Morella’s mouth. ”Then it’s just as well I forged a bond with her. I’m sure it won’t be an ephemeral one.”

”No, it won’t. Rhiannon is a strong-minded and generous woman. Her favour has never been in short supply.” Myrina eased out of the chair and kissed Morella on the crown of her head. ”And now I must seek my own bed. The mark of the darker half is upon us, and the following days friends and strangers will equally cross between thresholds.”

Excerpts from my mythic fantasy novel currently titled The Fruit of Passion.

 

The Fruit of Passion: Chapter 5-Part II

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‘’A sorrowful tale, indeed,’’ mused Morella with her look lost, roving at the sea beyond the hills.

‘’You have no faith in my words, do you?’’

‘’How far are you willing to go to convince me?’’ Morella sat serenely, the fingers of her left hand idly caressing the silver dagger sheathed at the waist under her cloak.

‘’Would a few drops of blood suffice?” Without waiting for an answer, Rigantona lifted the hem of her dress and pulled out a petite, sharp knife from her leather boot. She slashed a thin line in the middle of her palm. Morella drew out her own dagger, following the other queen’s actions. They clasped their bloody hands, their fingers intertwining; all the while Rigantona breathed strange words in a sibilant-like language.

‘’We’re bound by the very essence that keeps us alive,’’ said Rigantona and pressed her would more tightly into Morella’s own. ‘’And if the barest grain of falsehood has flown out of my lips, I’ll gladly accept the mortal consequences of my deception.’’

But Rigantona remained as stately as she first appeared. No physical exhaustion overtook her, and no heavy headache hammered in her skull. No wild laughter and no punishing madness descended upon her that would make her fall on a sword and end her torture sooner.

Still, Morella waited without removing her hand from the other woman’s grasp. At last, she spoke, ‘’If there’s anything I can do to help you find your son, I’ll be happy to relieve your suffering.’’

‘’My Lady, you have your own queendom to run. Why would you focus your efforts on me and ally yourself practically with a stranger?’’

‘’For the same reason you entrusted me, a stranger, with your burden.’’

                                                    ***

Rigantona made a gesture to part the windows and step outside, when the sight made her stiffen. The maiden was stumbling as if in a narcotic haze, her arms slightly extended forward, her palms furiously rubbing each other as if to wipe out a venomous stain. Her surroundings had no impression on her, her body anaesthetized to the biting cold.

‘’Poor creature! You’re walking in your sleep.’’

Rigantona threw on her cloak, grabbing Morella’s as well. And since the castle’s gates were heavily guarded and the stirring at such late hour would cause suspicions, she cast a spell and an illusion all over her, so that she could both pass through whichever opening she chose and see all, without encountering obstacles in her way or be seen by anyone.

And once she sneaked out and left the castle behind her, she pattered along, following Morella’s direction. The maiden still her hands rubbed, her eyes wide like these of a child taking in all the wonders of the world at once, murmuring from time to time, ‘’the ashes the ashes never washed away flesh there’s no flesh devoured by the fire’s all-ravenous mouth couldn’t snatch her away from the bright-red thief the black seeps into the soul and the hands the gray marks forever carry.’’

Rigantona couldn’t decide as to the best course of action. If she left Morella to her own devices, the maiden’s health would be at grave risk, for she would surely catch a serious cold. If woken up, her reactions could be violently unpredictable.

Rigantona still pursued her, determined to shake her awake either way if she didn’t break out of her stupor within the next few minutes. By now, they had both wandered off, wagging between the beachfront and the damp edge of the forest.

Νο big blow raged above them. Billions of stars flickered like minute lanterns in the infinite sky wile the moon was too haughty to cast its silver sparkle upon the world. The leaves on the trees rustled as the mild wind’s cool kiss scattered amongst them, and the sea’s waves poured forth in an intimate joining with the sand.

***

Morella didn’t venture on another nightly roving, though her sleep was no less turbulent because of that. Rigantona stayed by her side, her anxious eyes keeping strict watch over. Morella often broke into whimpers and low wails, her body wracked by savage waves of tension as if dogging someone who always eluded her grip or as if she herself were being mercilessly chased in a wild hunt, and found no recourse to escape from the cavalcade who sought to drag her away.

Rigantona then bent over her, her fingers drawing strange symbols upon the maiden’s forehead, cheeks and bosom while thrice chanting,

”Stronger be the morning star

than the mists of the troubled mind.

The dawn is yet to come,

so by the prickling of my thumb

into my own dreams see in kind.”

Morella’s torment then ceased as her soul swarmed with all the vibrations and sensations swirling within the other woman’s own soul. Her breathing returned to its usual rhythm, her face fresh and smooth once again.

                                                              ***

When all was over, Morella went about her own affairs, leaving Rigantona to her rest, though she was usually back on her feet to accompany the maiden every noon to the well.

”You haven’t known any peace. What stories does your mind conjure when you fall on bed? Is it your mother? Does she often visit you?” Rigantona wondered one noon as the maiden filled her silver bucket.

Morella lowered and removed her bucket mechanically, her hands working the windlass. ”I hardly know what or who I see. One face melts and shifts into another, and one voice is dyed with the timbre of another. My mother’s always wavering around the edges, opening and shutting her mouth, muttering letters and syllables that round and round they go, then tumble and fall, pointing her index at a dark distance. And then, like dew on rosebuds under a rising summer sun she vanishes, giving her place to an elderly couple whose features I cannot very well discern. Round and round they move as well, their heads inclined towards each other. The man’s holding a child in his arms, lost in a deep conversation with the woman. I cannot catch their words, for only the silence thrums within my ears. And then the darkness spreads from the periphery to the centre of my vision, and all’s gone.”

”My Lady, do you have the sight? Could…could this child be my own babe?”

”Yes, Chieftainess. I can see what has been, what is and what will come to pass. I was born a seer. The identity of the child is yet to be revealed. My mother’s struggling to spell a name. This could be the key to what we’re looking for. So, I’d beg you from now on not to weave your dreams with mine. If we still have a chance to succeed, my efforts need to be untampered.”

Rigantona’s brows lifted with wonder. ”You’d be willing to prolong your torment for me?”

”Yes, because our cause is worthy, though your intentions are benevolent and have offered me much relief, for which I thank you.”

”All right then. I will mesh our minds no longer.”

Morella and Rigantona, from my mythic fantasy novel currently titled The Fruit of Passion.

 

The Last Passage I Wrote

The truth had the texture of a dry, wrinkled plum while the falsehood that of a fresh apple. And since that was the current of the tide, how was Nyneve and her fellow druids supposed to shift it to their favour? They could stir up a commotion as the world had never before seen, a full-scale rebellion here—inside the black heart of the empire itself—that would shake the sea and the sky from their foundations.  But she had no doubt as to the outcome.

If the Dumnonii and her own tribe, the Cornovii, couldn’t deliver the mortal blow against the Romans back in their homeland, Cornu, surely they couldn’t do so in the city of Rome either. It was as if she had a vision while broad awake and saw the bleak future unfurl before her eyes: the Romans ripping  them apart with their gladii, gorging on their blood, the druidic knowledge burnt to cinders once and for all through the fire of raving hatred.

If they struck back, they would be slaughtered. If they didn’t strike, then they were already defeated. But what did it mean to fight back? Not all battles took place out in the open in the daylight with swords, knives and shields, with savage cries, headbutts, fists and kicks. Some strifes were destined to bloom and rage silently in the dark.

Yes, that was the only way if their teachings were to survive for the next generations. They would swim with the flow and take to hiding. She and the rest of the Druids would meet after nightfall in the caves outside of Rome, deep into the forest, when everybody would be fast asleep. There, in absolute peace, they would practice their faith and pour all their love to the Supreme Being which governed the whole of creation, striving to be one with it.

Nyneve reflecting on how to keep the druidic faith alive, from my historical cross-genre novel currently titled Burning Souls.

 

 

The Last Passage I Wrote

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The women didn’t fall asleep as soon as their head hit the pillows, but lay on their side, the one looking at the other.

‘’Do you truly believe there’s a chance of finding my babe while staying here?’’

The fire in the hearth sparked, eating at the wood pieces slowly and steadily, washing both of them with a saffron glow.

Morella longed to lull her into serenity, but any affirmation would burn and blister her lips because it would be a falsehood, something beyond her skills and abilities. Life proved a quicksilver child never getting tired of leading people up and down the garden path, dashing all longings and expectations in the process. But what would be crueler of her? To ground the bereft mother in the natural uncertainty of things or weave a mesh of hope around her?

Morella and Rigantona, from my fantasy novel currently titled The Fruit Of Passion.

The Last Passage I Wrote

From my historical cross-genre novel, currently titled Burning Souls.

Nyneve stood before Magnus straight as a cypress, all the things brewing within her momentarily asleep behing the veil of a glassy look. ”How powerful and invincible you must feel holding your puny treaty over my head, beating my people into submission, cornering me till I have no choice but to bend under your force. But remember this, General. Your vanity is your own prison, a gloomy cell you’ve built with your bare hands. Your downfall awaits you there. Destruction is a double-edged sword. You want to brandish it? You better be prepared to have your own flesh slashed in the process as well.”