Magnolia Eclipse

She was riding, riding, riding into the night of the eclipse but did she know what was awaiting her, what fate had in store for her?...

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1. The journey...

Blue and pale white-washed skies drifted lazily over waving fields of wheat and barley, cornflower hazy in the dawn.

Birds sang their cheery tunes, all was calm, all was peaceful under the magnolia tree. A new day, a new beginning.

The only thing that didn’t fit was her. The girl of the darkness, the lady of the mist, lying there in drifts of barley. Blossom of magnolia, resting on her cape. Eyes as pure, as blue as the sky on a summers day, drained of life and hope of living. The crimson of the moon that night, had pulsed through her veins and ensnared her heart in poison, lasting for ever more.

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“Ebony, Miss Black, I cannot allow you to do this. The marshes are up that way, you could get stuck.  The eclipse is tonight, Midnight spooks at the sight of red light, remember?”

“I assure you sir, Midnight is more than capable of making a simple journey of five miles to my home. He is a strong stallion and could carry a fleet if he wanted to. And, he knows his way home well enough. I pray, do not fear for my safety!”

“But, I do! You are not safe in these parts. I shall arrange a room for you to stay the night.”

“No, sir. I can manage.”

The young man gave in. “Alright, but you must promise me that next time, you shall take the carriage.” He took the hand of Lady Black and kissed it softly. Her heart skipped a beat, her mind revolving in a whirlwind of secret, tender love for him.

“Fine.” She shook her head, smiling, then put up the hood of her dark velvet cloak. “Goodnight Mr Johnson.” Her eyes caught his one last time. Then she rode off into the night.

She galloped away down the track of Ivory Manor, her soft dark curls flowing in moonlight. Midnight sped, time was precious, roses wilting, death’s footsteps nearing. And her so oblivious as to what was now to come, to tear away her soul. Her horse rode faster, he could taste the anticipation, sense it, feel it snagging on branches, making him nervous.

They entered a field of marsh, of barley, of a twisting magnolia tree. Spinning, spinning, veins throbbing, moment pulsing nearer, night darkening, moon reddening. The eclipse had come upon her. The stallion spooked, tripped and reared to his highest and cantered towards the wood. Lady Black, among the marshes, was left alone and trampled. Blood spilled over ebony velvet, as she screeched a lament to the sky. Crimson caged by branches of magnolia blossom. “The end is near,” she cried, and let her hood fall back.

She couldn’t cling on for long enough, death had come for her. The grim reaper, shrouded in black, bore her soul to the skies, a scarlet shimmer on her cape still lingering over her face. And there she lay ‘til morning dawned, an empty shell, dark under the magnolia tree.

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