As promised yesterday, I am including some original and exclusive fiction to celebrate the launch of my new collaberative blog serial, Dusk: Origins.
Meet Nelya. To follow more of her story, and the story of Jacob, Cassidy and Frida, check out Dusk: Origins every sunday.
It was the fourteenth day she had woken on her own, without the tribe. She knew this, because she had made marks for each day on a piece of leather she carried. Fourteen marks meant fourteen days. Though, really, it could have been more. There had been days that she couldn’t count, where her arm and her head burned and the fire blurred her memory. There had even been some days that hadn’t mattered at all. Those days she hadn’t marked. There could be two, five or even ten of those days.
But since things had started to matter to her again, there had been fourteen.
They had been strange and empty days, but she had followed a pattern, never forgetting to hide her tracks, to set and to check traps, and to mark her way. It was the pattern she would follow on a long hunt. But on a long hunt there would be a home to go back to, not just a rough shelter and a gaping emptyness.
As always, the thought of it forced her to stop and breathe. To swallow it down. You know what happened. What happened was bad. There is no way to make it good.
An idea, glinting in her heart, a fish in a stream choked with ice. What if there is a way? The thought was so sudden, so strange, that it must have come from somewhere outside of herself. She sat, waited for it to grow. The Gods provided.
Her mother told her a story, when she was very young. All of them were told it. It was an important thing, so bone deep important it was forgotten by everything except the blood and the heart. It went like this.
Child, you know that we are the world. Child, you know that we alone know the secret of names. Child, you know that we alone are complete in a world full of broken things. And you know, also, that there is a reason for everything that is, was, or ever shall be. The reason for us is this.
Once, long ago, the world was a different place, mighty, proud and gleaming. And in that might, that pride, and that shine, we were the mightiest, the most proud, the brightest. We walked the skies with the Gods themselves. We knew we were important and beloved because the Gods entrusted us with a great magical artefact- one with the power to give and take life- just for us to care for.
We cared for it well for many years, but another tribe was envious. They hated us for our gifts and for our closeness to the Gods, and they worked against us in secret. One evil week they sent in their worst man to steal the Artefact from us. He seduced the woman guarding it, and took it and her far away where we could never find it again.
We sent warriors and hunters after him, but his evil magics hid his path, and so we had to tell the Gods that we had lost it, we had lost their beautiful, magical thing. And they were angry, and soon after we were cast down. The Gods told us to dwell in hiding, to live only among ourselves, and to never forget what we had done, until we could return the artefact. But to never fear, because we alone were still their most beloved.
But sometimes a parent must harm her most beloved child to do them good, and so we were harmed, and we will remain small and earthbound until we can return the Artefact when once again we may walk with Gods. It would be a hopeless task, if it wasn’t for one thing.
A great Seer told us that it lay to the west, in a magical island wreathed in mist, where everything is good and sweet, thanks to the power of the Artefact. Should someone brave and clever enough take that journey, it may one day return to us.
Every one of them had learned that at their mothers knee. And every one had longed to be brave and clever enough to travel to the west and take back the Artefact- but then you grew up, you became an adult, you got your marks, and other things mattered more.
The Gods sometimes harm those they love most, and what worse harm could there be than this? And what else could this be for?
She would do as asked. She would travel to the west and find the Artefact, and she would return it to her tribe. And surely the Gods would not then be so cruel as to demand she lived the rest of her life alone.
It would be done. Tomorrow, on the fifteenth day, she would wake and she would travel west. Gods send me help if I am worthy.