Image Flash #29
It’s been a good while since I’ve written any fantasy, and specifically, anything that remotely resembles traditional or ‘high’ fantasy. I really liked this picture and how it looks sort of patchwork and lost. The arid background got me thinking of mashing a bit of South-Western vibe into some magic world. So, I tossed on some Indian flute music and this is what came out. It’s less “in the moment” than what I normally write, but hey, I mostly consider these mental warm ups.
It was not that Une’-mere Kristen, third daughter of the Due Copperkin, dust kissed and bound to the sun, did not believe in magic. Of course she did.
She had seen it often enough. When she was little she’d tumbled from the roof and broken both her legs. She remembered the terrible pain of it, the screams of her mother, and the strange way the world rolled and sky curved as they carried her through town. But she remembered those things only vaguely. The green glow, from the fingers of the healers, tendrils of energy, like twisting fronds of summer grass, glowing and curling into and out of her body. That, the magic they’d used to put her leg right, one muscle and bone fragment at a time, she remembered clearly.
She’s seen earth spirits aplenty. Unlike her older sister, she’d never caught one. But she’d never really tried to either. While many of the children would try and capture them, she was unsure what the purpose of doing so was. Some nonsense to do with finding your love.
She believed in the sacred stones that kept the wild things out of their town. She believed in blessings of earth that grew fat melons from their dry land. She believed in the ghosts that sometimes snuck from their graves and ate new foals. All of this was truth to her. It was as real as clay pot, or a textbook, or a muss of her hair from her father.
But not the Gauz. For all the warnings, Une’-mere Kristen did not believe in that.
She knew that something happened, of that she was certain. All around town were tall poles, topped with curled arms of vine that held circular protective glyphs of string, bones, feathers, and glass. A few times every year, brown-crows (called warnlings) would come and roost on them, cawing loudly. She never saw birds like them otherwise, great chestnut colored creatures with orange beaks and feet. When they arrived children were instructed to go underground, cover their heads, and await their parents while the Gauz passed. They were told that staying out was a fate worse than death. That it would pull them, bodily, into its eternal curse. And they all knew that the only thing worse than a ghost, a spirit without a body, trapped in the physical world, was a vecca; a body without a soul, trapped in the spirit world.
But she did not believe what her parents told her. They were all taught the tale, from the time they were children; a long time ago, a people not unlike themselves, sought enlightenment in the dream realm. They raised their minds together, in a great imagining, and left their bodies behind. Only they become lost. Their bodies died. Their children abandoned. They became the Gauz.
But she knew better. Whole tribes did not simply melt into the spirit world to become some ethereal creature made of mad butterflies and burning mushrooms. They did not march through the world endlessly, lonely and sad, looking for their lost children. It was a nonsense story. It was a bogey-man, meant only to frighten and cloister them from whatever the reality was.
She was three years from becoming stone kissed and bound to the moon, but she was serious for her age. She was certain she was more adult than most everyone she knew. She’d decided that the next time the warnlings came, when they were told to cower in the basements, fearing a passing nightmare, that she would sneak out.
One way or another, she would see the truth of this lie for herself.