Echoes of the Ancient Winds
Russell Loyola Sullivan
The sun hangs low upon the evening, shadows long, stretching off to where they meet with other shadows, enjoining themselves in the darkness to come. The smell of lavender, and something else, perhaps a breeze carries it, though not a blade of grass stirs. The tip of the mountain off to the east still holds the light in its grasp. It reminds him of something, as well.
He stands and places his sword in its scabbard. To his left his horse still grazes, looking well rested from the long ride. His gaze sets upon the waterfalls, cascading down over the foothills, too far away to give up any sound, yet anyone watching would know the thunder of the water crashing over the rocks and pounding its way into the basin, mist rising as the clash of torrent against torrent doles out the infinity of each drop’s direction, sorting themselves out at the other end of the pool, where the water once again becomes placid as the evening itself.
The only other movement, much closer than the waterfall, a few birds hopping about the small grassy plain that butts up against the thick forest stretching on back to the foothills. The birds are finding things they like it would seem. They continue even as the sun sinks low, giving up its last gleam of light. Not a total darkness yet; though that will soon come. Day and night never join any more that light and darkness might; twilight is there to ensure they never meet. Such twilight tells the birds it is time to move on, no matter the delights they have found.
The lavender is stronger now, and the other scent is all too familiar: human. Well, not quite human. There are many who would say she does not exist. They are many who swear she does. Of course it matters little what either group has to say; she is here now. He should have known it was her. But, he was still asleep when the fragrance and the essence touched his senses. Somehow it mixed with a dream he was having about purple flowers and dead bodies. He had not meant to kill them; and some pang of regret hits him; his intentions did not always go as he envisioned.
She would find him here of course; she always did, and more so, it is he who always comes back, no matter what the cost to his soul. How long had he been asleep? It was not quiet afternoon when he lay down, so, a needed rest of sorts. An ache or two would need some time to mend; nothing he could not push aside. He touched his hand against his side, not as painful. Still, it seeped blood. He was not quite ready for another hunt.
She was before him now. No foot steps to announce her presence, only the lavender and the incredible power of her being; the Magic she carried hummed in the air, not a sound, rather a resonance of overwhelming power, a power that probably matched his own, a match he would not care to test. A few steps behind her came Danser, his eyes as dark as the night to come, his devotion to his master forged in battle and kinship, and sealed with the years that should have long ago taken any wolf to its spirit pack.
She smiled before she spoke, her emerald eyes sparkling even as the first stars came to join them. “Ah, I see you have rested. I was hoping to find you still in your dreams where I might join you.”
A breeze, as light as down feathers upon his face; it must have followed her in. He remembered now. Her hair, red like the last glimpse of sun on the far mountain peak, shimmered ever so slightly again her cheek. She reminded him of a war horse with all its power, yet she retained the exuberance of a new foal strutting with life, fragile and filled with vitality. She was neither, of course; but a more beautiful woman he had yet to meet.
Danser brushed against his legs; he reached down and scratched his ears, but kept his eyes on Merrian. “I’m pleased you’ve come to join me. How did you find me?”
“You weren’t so hard to find, my dear Gerand. I have Dancer, and he likes you for some odd reason.
He knew well to not press any further; her answers would only turn into riddles. “The hunt did not go well,” he offered.
“No, I didn’t expect it would. But you gave me valuable time to save the Woodling. For that we should all be thankful.” Merrian touched his face with her hand. “You are a brave man. I don’t know what we would do without your Magic and your sword.” She began undoing the bandage around his waist.
“Or, yours,” he quickly added.
She wiped the wound with a small cloth she took from her satchel, and pressed her hand over where the blade had found him. He felt the surge of energy and the healing she offered.
“There, that should hold you together for a few more days. … I fear our Magic and your sword might not be enough. We may already be too late.” She pointed to where the waterfalls where now shrouded in the darkness, and above a crescent moon sat just above the horizon. “If we fail, all else will ultimately fail.”
Gerand put his arm gently around her waist. “We’ll find more Woodlings, I promise.”
“You cannot promise what might not be possible.”
“It’s no longer only about Magic, is it?” he asked.
She pulled him close, “No, and the dark possibilities now loom large if not imminent.”
I am looking for ideas for my next book, book five. As I finish editing book three, and writing book four (some 50,000 words in) I continue to look for new ideas. The above in one such idea. I would love your comments on this opening scene. Is it enough to make you want to read more.
One of these scenes will most likely be the beginning of my fifth book.