We love a good story at There and Draft again, so when the very creative Kathi Schwengel threw down the gauntlet, and whipped up the beginning of a serial fantasy tale, we all pulled out our pens and said, “Yes please!”
So following on from the last instalment (check it out here if you missed it last time), we rejoin Corrin and Cafyl. Only this time another watcher makes an appearance…
Calliope was flickering, a habit her mother abhorred because it made her look like a sputtering candle. But since she’d been banished to the backside of nowhere, and permitted only the smallest thread of aranthe to keep the shakes at bay, she wasn’t bothered by social niceties.
A girl and her dog were wandering through the Desolation as though it were a tumble of old stones.
Calliope squeezed her eyes shut. Perhaps she’d finally gone mad. Her mind had fabricated its own excuse, and not even a plausible excuse at that, to make contact with Faeilleah. Home. Her fingers automatically slipped into the soft leather pouch at her hip, reaching for the comfort of the solitary, silky thread of aranthe.
‘Pull yourself together.’
Even here, a lifetime from home, the memory of her mother’s voice still rang clearly in her mind. She’d resented her mother’s firmness back then, always insisting on obedience and propriety. Never interested in her daughter’s fixation with spinning aranthe. Strange how the same words continued to fortify her through the years of isolation.
She had to focus. The ancient wards couldn’t be breached. Had never been breached. So the girl couldn’t be real.
Blowing out a long breath she opened her eyes.
The girl was still there. Eating an apple and clambering over the remnants of the runes that once protected the great fortress, as though the piercing dissonance had no effect on her. Even the dog was at ease. Loping between pools of tainted, wild magic without so much as a hackle raised. It wasn’t possible.
The flickering intensified, as Calliope left the small cavern that provided both shelter and an uninterrupted view over the Desolation. Standing at the edge of the dark rock, with the wind whipping up around her, she looked beyond the impossible girl.
The barren wasteland was the constant companion of her exile; its rhythms as familiar as her own body. The wild magic was stirred up today, she could feel the thrum of it in the wind, as it called the storm. Perhaps it was responsible for the girl? A vision sent to tempt her into – what? What was left for her anyway?
The aranthe curled around her fingers. Long ago she realised the ones who’d stood in judgement had sought to make her into the unhinged girl they’d painted her to be. Forcing her to stand watch over something that didn’t need watching. Hoping she’d succumb to the wild magic. But she was her mother’s daughter; she’d stand on the edge of this rock forever before she’d give them the satisfaction.
She caught a small movement to her right. A Rapier. She’d never seen one this far out. It was tracking the girl too. So focused on its target it was skirting dangerously close to the edge of the Desolation. A Rapier…
This was something. The thing that could open the door home.
For the first time since her banishment, Calliope opened her heart to the aranthe, calling it to her vision, capturing the likeness of the girl, and the dog. No not a dog – in the detail she saw it – wolfhound, with the lines of the great fae hunters. But she barely registered the detail as her fingers flew, and the Rapier appeared, reproduced in perfect, tiny, detail.
She didn’t dare stop to consider whether she should send it. With a gentle breath, it was gone. Her fate was in their hands.
If they didn’t come soon, she would be as forsaken as the land at her feet.
So there it is. I’m looking forward to seeing which direction the next instalment takes!
– Raewyn Hewitt