Echoes of Ayyendé

This is an unfinished, high-fantasy piece. I'd love to hear any comments or constructive criticism. Thanks for your time. Hope you like it.

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1. The Echoes

 

The time had come  for Tissa to visit his grandmother in the soul-gardens. He had sensed it coming for some time. Just the seed of a feeling. But now, the seed had slowly flowered into a sense of knowing and destiny.

Twin moons shone like the lazy Glitterflies that hovered around his head. The vast hills and fields of Showarth-Mir, became drained of the days explosion of colour, shadows began to glide across the landscape like love-lost ghosts. A few droplets of rain gently burst on the end of Tissa's nose. He loved the rain. Rain was good - thinking weather, as he always called it. The hot seasons tired him out, much too bright for living inside his own head. But with the rain, comes a thoughtful, creative and happy Tissa. Walking from the house, he ran down the track that led to his favourite hollow, completely unaware of his mother’s eyes, watching his every step.

‘Oh Tissa,’ Holly Nira whispered softly to herself, tears blurring her eyes. ‘Today I will lose you my only son. My own mother calls to your innocent, young heart.’ With Tissa  now out of sight, she slowly closed the door and began the preparations.

From being a very young child, he had been told of the coming of certain emotions and premonition. These were told to him by his mother, often in the shape of wondrous and mythical tales. She had many times told her son, that he was the one his grandmother had chosen. ‘The Oldens, choose only one,’ she would tell him. ‘Even before you began to grow in my belly, you were the one.’ His mother's words had branded, deep into his memory. Most of Tissa's life had been spent, trying to make some sort of sense of these words. Trying to make them fit into the puzzle of his own existence. He now believed, even if he could not yet solve this puzzle, he must as least begin to search for the pieces.

Lying in the mouth of the hollow, Tissa listened to the raindrops drumming soothing rhythms onto the huge leaves that grew near. He held out his hand, feeling the cool drops explode on his skin. The damp smell of earth, rock and vegetation filled his senses, calming his mind. A mind that was now brimming with  the hunger for an unknown knowledge that must be found. Then, a space deep within his mind seemed to clear, making way for a voice which floated through him, swirling like a fog, enveloping all other thoughts, demanding to be heard.

‘Come to me Tissa, it's time. I am waiting for you. I have so much to tell you.’ He should have been shocked at this invasion of private thought but a great flood of emotion pushed  tears from behind his eyes, mingling with the raindrops speckling the floor of the hollow. He knew who it was.

‘Where are you?’ he said aloud, as if talking to himself. ‘Are you at the special place, that place which you sleep?’ Again it came, the  voice of his long dead grandmother, Ayyendè Beshch.

‘Yes, you must come to me at the Gardens. It will be easier for us to talk there. Go home. Holly has things for you to bring. Then you must say goodbye to her, forever. Be strong Tissa, for you and your mother.’ As the voice faded, he wiped his eyes. Outside the hollow he raised his head to the heavens, letting the all-cleansing rain, wash over him. He began the walk back home.

As his house came into sight, he saw that his mother was already walking through the fields towards him. She knew. She had known grandmother had been talking to him. She was coming to say goodbye. He ran to her. Embracing her son, she stroked his long dark hair, making gentle, shushing sounds to calm his sobs. Pulling away, holly looked deep into her child's eyes. No need for words. Words would only wrap their hearts in razor wire. Tissa saw his mother’s face veiled in contentment and pride. She had done her work - her job was now over, it was time to let go. She kissed his forehead and stroked his face for the last time. Then, putting a satchel onto his shoulder, she whispered only one word.

‘Go.’

Slowly, he turned and walked through the hissing curtain of rain, sensing he would never again see his mother.

After a short journey through the woods, Tissa saw the great wooden gates, of the Soul Gardens. These gates could be seen for miles around, towering over the ancient oaks. He remembered, on clear days, running to the top of hills just to sit and gaze in wonder at the gates in the distance. Often, he would conjure visions of what it must be like, beyond those gates but would never dare go near. But now, he was almost within touching distance, the nearest he had ever been to the gardens. Walking closer, he saw a robed figure standing on the opposite side of the gates. Should I turn back? he thought, now a little scared. The figure spoke.

‘Tissa? Tissa, son of Holly Nira?’ The voice was calming and well spoken, which eased his fears a little.

‘Yes,’ he replied, as quietly as he had been asked. Now face to face with the figure, he saw the man was very old with a balding head and a neat, white beard. On his forehead was some sort of symbol - an eye maybe? He smiled politely at Tissa and began to unlock and pull back the gates.

‘Your grandmother has told me much about you and has great things planned. You are very privileged, young men very rarely enter the gardens. But please, I forget my manners. My name is Lumen, the keeper of the Soul Gardens, please come in.’ With a sweep of his robed arm, Lumen ushered Tissa inside. ‘Please, follow me to the chapel.’ As soon as Tissa stepped through the gates, the gardens hissed with excited, incorporeal whispering. Although this sudden quiet chatter startled him, Tissa felt uplifted by the attention. ‘Don't worry,’ smiled Lumen, ‘they have never sensed the aura of someone so young. They will soon calm down.’ Side by side, they both walked down a worn, winding pathway, Tissa, now enraptured, looked at the sights around him. The gardens were indeed beautiful. Huge oaks stood guard, their leaves gently rustling in the night breeze. Snake-like, vines wrapped and caressed the ancient, crumbling walls that surrounded them. He could smell the history in the wood, brick and earth around him.

Lined up on either side of the pathway, for what seemed miles, was row upon row of raised, elongated mounds of earth. At the head of each, was a transparent, inverted dome, pressed into the surface. Lumen explained that these were called the viewing dishes, and that beneath the mounds lay the dead. The silent earth sleepers, the permanent residents of the gardens. Tissa wondered in which part of this fragile gothic idyll, lay his grandmother.

The chapel was a small, crumbling house, the brickwork, stained and dark with age. Also, the ever-present vines crept up the wall and roof of the building as if embracing the chapel to protect it from collapsing. He was surprised at how sparse it was inside. Nothing grand at all, no flamboyant stone deities, no paintings or great, stained-glass windows. Just bare-white walls, a small, covered altar and a few wooden chairs dotted around. Lumen offered a glass of red wine, which was accepted gratefully as they both sat down.

‘I will take you to your grandmother very soon Tissa. Have you any idea what to expect?’

‘No, only that she wants to talk to me.’ He took a sip of the wine to try to hide his frustration.

‘Ayyendè is the most respected resident in the gardens. She is warm, kind and never stops talking of her plans for you. What you will actually be talking to, is her eternal spirit, her undying fire. The soul. You remember the viewing dishes, embedded in the body-bumps outside, yes?’

‘Er, yes,’ the wine in his hand, rippled in time with his nerves.

‘Well, just lie belly-down along the bump and place your face into the dish. This is so she can see you and communicate properly. Are we ready then?’ Tissa nodded placing his shoulder bag on the floor. Again they entered the gardens. After a few minutes walk, Lumen stopped at one of the bumps.

‘Here we are Ayyendè, you have a visitor!’ Tissa stared down at the mound under which his grandmother lay. His voice quaked slightly as he turned to Lumen.

‘Do you know what grandmother wants to talk to me about?’

‘Oh yes,’ he smiled, placing a comforting hand on the shoulder of the now, obviously frightened young man. ‘Don't worry, just do as I instructed earlier and everything will be fine - trust me. If you should need me for anything, I shall be back in the chapel. Now, go talk to your grandmother.’ Tissa watched Lumen disappear into the chapel doors. Taking a deep breath, Tissa lay on the mound as instructed, placed his head into the dish - and waited.

Nothing. He began to feel stupid.

Then breaths of muddled whispering, slowly began increasing in volume, growing and merging into the clear feminine voice of Ayyendè. The dome began to turn milk-white.

‘Tissa, oh my dear sweet grandson. I can finally see you. You're so grown-up, let me hear your voice.’ Giving a nervous cough, his words croaked out.

‘Hello grandmother. Er, how are you?’ What a stupid thing to say to someone who is already dead, he thought to himself.

‘It isn't a stupid question at all,’ she giggled at his surprised expression, knowing he had forgotten she could read his thoughts. ‘I am very well - and how are you?’

‘I feel strange, a little silly lying here and . . . scared.’

‘All understandable, but please do not be scared. We are family and I love you as much as you love your mother. You will no doubt want to know what this is all about?’

‘Yes.’

‘What you must first know, is that I died way before my time. My life was taken away from me by someone I was born to spend my life fighting. Her name is Adraxia Feros. She is pure evil within a woman-form. Ironically we grew up as friends and in some ways we are very alike. I suppose we are what you would call witches or sorceresses. My powers were and still are legion but used only to enforce the laws of nature. But Adraxia -

 Adraxia works like a cancer, infecting and killing. She breeds her own armies, which pollute airspace like a toxin. She must be stopped Tissa. I can no longer fight but you can - with my help. As I have said I still possess many powers but my powers need a vessel to employ them. You Tissa.’

His mind drowned in a mire of confusion, unable to take in all this frightening and daunting information at such a fast rate. Ayyendè drew all this from him and understood his fears, caressing his mind and soul as she spoke. Soft, spectral lips kissed his heart, as a mother would comfort a weeping child. Ayyendè soaked up his dread and frustration as the earth drinks the rain.

‘Are you still with me Tissa?’ There was a slight pause as Ayyendè's influence began to take hold within him.

‘I . . . I think I'm beginning to understand. Please tell me more, I need to know everything.’

‘Before you leave these gardens with the knowledge you shall take from me - something has to happen. You were born, how shall I put this. You were born wrong. You are not strong enough. As you are, you are no match for Adraxia. The fire that once burned within me, must burn within you. In doing this you must make the ultimate sacrifice. Do you trust me Tissa?’

‘Yes grandmother.’

‘Implicitly?’

            ‘With my whole being. Do what you will.’

‘Then please relax, clear your mind and breathe deeply.’

                        The mist within the dish turned from the white he was becoming accustomed to, a blinding red blaze             of dazzling fire-bursts. The colours passed through the boy’s body, heat and power massing within, radiating outwards into sinews, veins and flesh. Tissa felt the mistake of his birth, right itself. There was no pain.

It was over. The dish returned to normal.

‘Tissa, do you know what has happened to you? Do you understand?’

‘Yes.’ With that simple answer, Ayyendè knew her work was now complete. Tissa was ready, in body and soul.

‘Tissa Nira, blood of my daughter, go now. I have filled your mind, I have blessed your body. You know everything I know - you will do more than I ever could. Lumen now awaits you. Leave me now in peace.’

Back at the chapel Lumen gazed at Tissa in awe. He knew what to do. He pulled out the garment, which Holly Nira had packed for her son. Totally unashamed, Tissa stripped naked and stood proud, as the keeper silently helped the newborn dress.

She was truly a beauty to behold. The sight of this young woman would stay with Lumen forever. Tissa put a hand upon Lumen's shoulder and kissed his forehead, then turned and walked down the path towards the gates.

Lumen watched the figure shrink into the distance as her long dress brushed the ground behind her. She raked a soft, elegant hand through a mane of black hair then waved before disappearing out of sight.

The chapel rang with screeching, sardonic laughter. The cacophony emanated from Lumen himself. ‘May you burn forever Tissa Nira. May you burn forever.’ He laughed and shifted, warped and morphed then tore away the cover from the altar, revealing the bloodied, naked corpse of - Lumen. Adraxia Feros removed the garden-keeper's robes from her body, casting them to the floor.

 

            ‘It begins again Ayyendè,’ she smiled. ‘It begins again.’  

            The rain fell.

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