Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Grave Flower

I'm afraid, dear readers that I will have to dispense with my usual salient and well reasoned diatribe of the inner workings of the authorial process. The demands of career and family have left my mind mind in a dysfunctional state, such that I am unable to procure a viable discussion. In short, my brain is tapioca and I can't come up with a decent topic. Therefore, I will do what all great middle managers do in such a situation.

I will punt.

The following is a snippet from my novel. This is a much older version, but what the hell.

A low mound of earth greeted him at the top of the hill. It was a desolate sight that dampened his heart and quelled his emotions. True to his word, Ladra had not erected any marker. Darby stood at the foot of the mound simply staring unable to bring himself to do anything.
            The air was still. Unidentifiable insects chirrupped in the deepening twilight. Odd flying creatures, no larger than a fly, glowed sporadically with a luminescent magic all their own. Dark winged shapes darted through the air snapping up the glowing insects with determined ease. Twilight sank into night signaling a chorus of frog songs to commence. Darby briefly wondered if they really were frogs that were singing into the night.
            He raised his hand, palm upturned, as his mind reached out to Aodh trying to begin the Dance. He called out to Aodh trying to will a small globe of light to form in the palm of his hand. Nothing happened. He called out again, but his appeal went unanswered. He opened his eyes, letting his hand fall to his side. He had failed again. Several times since he had awoke in Maeta’s house, he had tried to enter the Dance with the Sidhe. He sighed in resignation, shaking his head as he turned his attentions back to the mound before him.
            Ladra had offered him an axe before he had left the house this morning, which Darby had quickly refused. He hoped he had hid his distaste for the crude instrument, though Ladra’s wry smile had told him that he had not been completely successful. He did gratefully accept the lantern that Ladra had offered next. He also borrowed a flint and tinder as without the Dance, his abilities were seriously limited. He rummaged around the tree line for a moment or two gathering twigs and some dried moss in order to start a small fire. He built a small cone of twigs and set steel to flint showering the dried moss with sparks. A few strikes and the moss began to smolder. Carefully he placed the glowing bits of tinder under the twigs and blew gently. Within moments, flames were licking up through the cone of sticks. When he was satisfied that the fire was burning steadily, he pulled a burning twig out and lit the lantern. Raising it above his head, he began looking about the hilltop looking for something with which to fashion a suitable marker. He quickly rejected the strange, moss laden trees for there was no telling what manner of nymph or dryad resided within them. Stone was eliminated next as he had not the power to coerce its shape. Finally, his eyes came to a small clump of flowers just beyond the sphere of lantern light.
            Pearlescent white petals ringed a sulphurous yellow center. The stems and leaves were darkly green defined sharply by the dew which had collected on them. The first of the two moons, Dongara, had risen above the swamp shining its pale light. The light collected on the dew and was refracted outward while the petals themselves seemed to glow faintly in the ethereal light. Dimming the lantern, he set it down at his feet. He waited a moment for his eyes to adjust to the darkness, then walked carefully around the mound to an outcropping of rock that he had noticed earlier. The rock was layered together like so many sheaves of paper, solid to the touch, but Darby was convinced that it would break apart easily if properly struck. Hefting a smaller round rock with both hands, he struck it against the base of the outcropping where in delved into the earth. It cracked mutely, but remained intact. Another strike and the top layer of the rock fell away and landed at Darby’s feet. He discarded the smaller stone then bent to retrieve the shard. With this in hand, he returned to the head of the grave. Using the shard as a spade, he mounded earth two hands high and two hands wide just beyond the grave itself. When he had finished making this new smaller mound, he rose and strode over to the flowers. Using his makeshift shovel, he managed to dig free a large clump which he quickly transported over to the mound he had just made. Working quickly and deftly with his hands he planted the flowers there at the head of the grave.
            When he was finished, he sat back on his haunches resting his hands on either side of the plant. He remained still. Quietly resting, he let the night settle about him. He breathing slowed as his thoughts dissolved one by one from his mind. He focused solely on the plant before him searching patiently for the delicate lacework of its life. Within that pattern, there would be the threads that, when touched, would cause the plant to grow and to thrive. It was a small talent. One that he hoped was still left to him.
            Slowly, painfully slow, the pattern glimmered into his sight. It was faint, barely perceptible, but it was there. Surprise threatened to crush his concentration, but he held to it with stubborn will. The pattern before him was far more intricate than he would have believed and definitely far more exotic than anything seen in the Thundrean. His eyes strained as they tried to follow all the threads at once. He had to squint slightly to force himself to concentrate on just on at a time. His mind was so consumed with tracing the threads of the flowers life that he nearly stared right through a tiny winged nymph hovering just inside the lattice. She circled about the flowers glowing like a miniature star. Darby gasped softly when he finally realized what the figure was, practically losing his concentration as his awareness of her crashed through his mind.
            Questions bubbled in his mind rising into his consciousness in a gurgle of hope, fear, and confusion. These things threatened to overwhelm him, but he ruthlessly shoved them back into the dark places of his mind. This creature could not answer his questions. Her world revolved around the plants that she tended. The only thing he could do was to lend something of himself to her. He focused on the nymph freeing what energy there was in him and giving it over to her.
            The aura around the nymph changed colors immediately. It flared ruby as her movements became more rapid. Darby feared briefly that the nymph had taken offense to his intrusion into her existence. His fears were waylaid, however, as her movements slowed and her hue passed from ruby to pale yellow. Her movements began to trace the impossibly intricate pattern around the flower. Slowly, at first, she began to glide through the lattice. Gradually her movements became more rapid. Her aura shifted to deeper shades of yellow then into greens and blues. Faster and brighter she flew tracing the pattern over and over until the nymph herself was merely a blur of light the color of molten amber.
Abruptly, she stopped.

The pattern flashed brightly then faded as does summer lightning. Darby’s sight went completely dark with only the afterglow of the pattern fading in his eyes. Moments later his sight began to return. Faint glimmers of afterglow still lingered but the hilltop slowly began to return to him. The second moon, Morobe, had risen adding its light to Dongara’s. Morobe’s face was that of liquid garnet and being the nearer of the two moons was the most intense. Darby stood up looking around him with eyes that were becoming increasingly adjusted to the night. As he looked over the grave he found that the flowers he had transplanted had grown to cover the entire mound. Morobe’s light reflected brightly off the petals turning them crimson while the dew droplets on the leaves shone like darkling stars.

Copyright 2005

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