Ahead, the moon in the night sky glowed with purpose and intent. Deep blues outlined the distant horizon as darkness swept across the sky. Stars sparkled, twinkling in the night, providing a breathtaking view. The moon lit up the sky, casting a gentle light. It was an unforgettable moment of beauty and serenity. The sky roared as thunder rolled in. Lightning flashed against the backdrop of the night sky, illuminating the landscape in a brilliant display of power. The storm was quickly rolling in, threatening to disrupt the tranquil atmosphere. Rain began to fall, bringing to life a living ambiance to the beautiful night.
Alice smiled as she walked down the stone pathway, listening to the storm rumble. She found comfort in the sound of the storm. As the rain danced over the greenhouse-roofed walkway cascading down on either side of her, it made the most fascinating sound. The air was still warm and the heavy raindrops were kicking up the rich garden smells of wet soil, ripe tomatoes, and magnolias. The yellow, green, and bright reds of garden flora delighted the senses. A slender, black, intelligent cat walked alongside her, avoiding the rain gracefully while balancing on perfectly laid stones. The cat seemed to understand his surroundings, aware of the symphony of rain, the aroma of the garden, and the colors of the blooming flowers. It seemed to be in harmony with nature, its steps light and precise, never missing a beat.
Alice’s bare feet were perfectly gliding over the stepping stones. Her steps were magically graceful and overshadowed by waves of brightly colored fabrics. Alice’s light brown hair was wild and unkempt, cut short and visibly tangled. Her sun-kissed skin was a striking contrast to the multicolored fabric dress that flowed around her with each step. Her movements were fluid and effortless as if she were dancing with the fabric as her partner. Her dress swirled around her, barely brushing the stones below, in a way that seemed almost magical. She had wild hair that framed her face, and her wild hair reflected her free spirit. Each step she took was a potential canvas because Alice was a beautiful and untamed sight to behold.
The rain quickened, and thunder reverberated against the stone beneath her steps. Sinegar looked up desperately trying to shrink his form and keep pace determined to avoid the cascading waterfalls of rain on either side of the walkway. Alice’s smile grew. Instinctually, Alice began to quicken her step to match Sinegar's, her smile widening further as she watched him struggle against the rain.
Clouds hurried the night, leaving the last of the light to be swallowed by darkness. The wind howled and lightning cracked, but Alice and Sinegar continued to walk, silhouettes against the storm. Despite the chaos, Alice felt a strange calm, as if the rain had washed away all her worries. The night was theirs.
She was safe inside her castle walls. The burden of research was heavy, but she was armed with knowledge. This meant that in a few hours, the parties in danger would have the ability to defend themselves against an incoming threat. She hurried to finish her work over the past few days, feeling a sense of urgency to protect those who were unaware. She only had to warn the Fae leaders of the impending danger now that her task had been accomplished. This storm was a perfect excuse for her to stretch her legs and ensure that the majority of Fae leaders would be indoors tonight, or at least near their settlements. So, her timing was perfect. Alice’s grip tightened around the journal in her hand. After taking a right on the pathway, Alice and her cat moved with purpose toward the inner sanctum.
“Alice,” Sinegar purred with trepidation in his voice. He stopped and lifted his nose into the air. The wind gushed, splashing Alice’s dress and drenching her legs and Sinegar. The cat did not seem to notice, he just sniffed, moving around the walkway in the wind. Alice tried to wring the fabric of her dress and find a more central position in the walkway. She noticed her cat’s black hair rising in a ridgeline down his spine, her confidence fading with the rising fur along his spine. Sinegar caught a scent in the air, one that had him on edge. He raised up on his hind legs, sniffing the currents nearer to the inner sanctum, then turning back from the direction they had just come from. He dropped, arching the ridge of hair along his spine even though he was thoroughly drenched. As he visually and physically alerted her to danger, he said, "Alice, I think it is here. I think we were wrong.".
“Sinegar, run and alert all you can over the spiritual thread” her voice was poetically melodic and confirmed her possession of the mother's magic, “we will sound the alarm when we reach the sanctum. It would be wise to bring all in-residence to a centralized location for the night. We must get this to the Fae of River Torrn. The community is central to the river route. It will be the fastest way to alert everyone.
Sinegar lifted his nose into the air again, and lightning lit up the garden behind him. The yard was clear, and the formal dining room windows across the garden revealed a few hands tidying up. The upper floors were as dark as the skies, brightened only by brief moments of light that danced before the thunder growled. It was still early for everyone to be asleep, but the wind, rain, and thunder would attract many to dim their lights and enjoy the show. The thunder growled and then crashed with a prominent vibration.
“The rain distorts the smell,” he paused. In the distance, there was a loud and frightened scream. The lightning lit the sky again revealing invading forces climbing the dome shield. “I fear they may be here already.” As Sinegar's words came out the portal chimes sang.
The rain muted the portal chimes; however, ancient protection was put in place to ensure the residents all had a safe passage. A spiritual shield would form below the primary shield. This was in the event of an attack or natural disaster. The lights on the upper floors all started to turn on and the energy of the castle seemed to awaken with focused intent. Within seconds Alice and Sinegar started running toward the inner sanctum.
“Alice,” Sinegar purred with trepidation in his voice. He stopped and lifted his nose into the air. The wind gushed, splashing Alice’s dress and drenching her legs and Sinegar. The cat did not seem to notice, he just sniffed, moving around the walkway in the wind. Alice tried to wring the fabric of her dress and find a more central position in the walkway. She noticed her cat’s black hair rising in a ridgeline down his spine, her confidence fading with the rising fur along his spine. Sinegar caught a scent in the air, one that had him on edge. He raised up on his hind legs, sniffing the currents nearer to the inner sanctum. He turned back from the direction they had just come from, and the ridge of hair along his spine arched even though he was thoroughly drenched. As he visually and physically alerted her to danger, he said, "Alice, I think it is here. I think we were wrong.".
Alice nodded, "when we reach the sanctum we'll sound the alarm." It would be wise to bring all in-residence to a centralized location for the night. We must get this to the Fae of River Torrn. The community is central to the river route. It will be the fastest way to alert everyone. She knew the power of the river and the Fae. They would be able to spread the word quickly. She had to act now.
Sinegar lifted his nose into the air again, and lightning lit up the garden behind him. The yard was clear, and the formal dining room windows across the garden revealed a few hands tidying up. The upper floors were as dark as the skies, brightened only by brief moments of light that danced before the thunder growled. It was still early for everyone to be asleep, but the wind, rain, and thunder would attract many to dim their lights and enjoy the show.
The thunder growled and then crashed with a prominent vibration, rolling across the sky like a wave and echoing off the distant hills. Lightning followed seconds later, illuminating the landscape in a single, brilliant flash, briefly showing the garden and its surroundings in a stunning array of colors. Then darkness returned, and only the sound of the rain remained. The storm was overhead. Alice lifted her skirts and turned to run to the sanctuary.
“The rain distorts the smell,” Sinegar muttered, his nose still lifted. Alice stopped and waited for her feline companion to join her. In the distance, there was a loud and frightening scream. Lightning lit the sky again, revealing invading forces climbing the dome shield. “I fear they may be here already.” As Sinegar's words came out, the portal chimes sang in alarm. Alice's heart sank as she watched the forces charging the shields above them, illuminated by each strike of lightning. Without a moment to spare, she grabbed Sinegar and ran for cover.
Alice’s fabrics clung to her legs, complicating her ability to run and the men-at-arms were forming an inner barrier around the gardens of her inner estate. It was possible to see the shimmer of the Knights' armor against distant walls as they raced toward their stations. The Knights rode towards the castle, ready to protect. As they rode, their courage shone through the dark night, a light of hope for the kingdom. They arrived with a mighty charge, ready to defend the walls of the castle. Each Knight was a beacon of courage and strength, inspiring all who saw them to move with haste to the nearest portal.
Alice's mind raced. Only moments before she was prepared to share her journal research of this new rising enemy with the Fae councils. However, now the greatest threat to her world was climbing the shield of her castle. How was this possible? Her home was a sanctuary, why would they be under attack? She had assumed that the Fae councils had knowledge of her research and would be able to protect her home, but it seemed that the enemy was one step ahead of them. The enemy must have had an insider providing intelligence in order to mount such an efficient attack.
The rain muffled the portal chimes. A spiritual shield would form below the primary shield in response to the alarm. This was in the event of an attack or natural disaster. The lights on the upper floors were all turned on and the energy of the castle seemed to awaken with focused intent. Alice and Sinegar were approaching the inner sanctum. The small stone building with long painted windows awaited their arrival.
Overhead, the luminant spiritual shield formed beneath the cracked dome shield. Alice's breath caught in her throat as she noticed a large, long crack running through the barrier. She could feel the power of the dome weakening and knew she had to act fast. She closed her eyes and concentrated on gathering her energy, preparing to cast a spell to reinforce the shield. Lightning struck again, showing a glimpse of the shield damage and reflecting the spiritual shield forming below the previous shield.
Alice gathered her energy and dropped her hands to the earth, filling the grounds of her home with energy and intent to repair the damages that had been done. She envisioned the spiritual shield closing and locking in place around the fortress. Alice felt the energy surge through her body and saw the shield come to life. The divine energy ran like a river of light against the darkness of the sky. Alice felt a momentary sense of comfort, knowing that the shield was still protecting them. Suddenly, the sky lit up again, and the spiritual shield seemed to be holding steady.
Despite this, there were enemies within the boundary. Alice knew that their only chance to survive was to get everyone into the sanctuary portal.
The nobles and men-at-arms began to file into the inner sanctum. Alice knew that the second sanctum in the main gatehouse would be the portal for chapelmen and priests. The priests would build a spiritual shield from the outer gate inward, Alice knew at the present moment. The final sanctum was in the kitchen garden and would give passage to the Steward and the household hands and their families.
Distant screaming from within the protective shield lifted above the storm's growing chaos as Alice reached the knights stationed on either side of the intricate inner sanctum doors. Lightning ripped through the dark clouds at the same time, appearing to have been triggered by the cries for help. Sinegar started to arch his back and move energetically toward the portal gate. He began to spit and hiss as the screams continued to move in the wind, closer to their location.
“Something is wrong, Alice. There are many. There are many, and they are pushing against the shield.” Sinegar started hissing and backing away again. “Alice, they have broken through.”
"Pass through, Sinegar. I will be right behind you.” Alice’s voice was hushed by the powerful white fire that was burning through the skies. This fire illuminated the shield the priests had positioned high above and around the castle property, the same shield Alice had just infused with her own magic. Alice stood motionless, looking out the window in stunned disbelief, taking a moment to see the unfolding of the unprecedented attack on her territory. Her magic and the magic of all the priests were being challenged by an unknown enemy. She looked down at the journal she clutched for dear life, none of her research warned of magical ability.
The priest's shield was holding up in the storm and under the pressure of the attacking forces, but the force behind the attack was showing places of potential damage. In the heavy downpour, large, loud raindrops beat against the shield as the men at arms stood their ground. It created an inward drum of deafening force and growing humidity. High above her, there were shadowed creatures moving about, shield-like spiders sharing a web. The screams were getting closer. Alice dared not avert her gaze; she kept her eyes out of the window and on the shield. The Master-At-Arms and the knights in the room stepped forward.
Sinegar cried out, and flinched, jumping back sideways, claws out and ready to defend. The black cat’s ears alternated between a constant swivel where he was attentive and listening to every sound. Or they fell flat against his head and pointed back toward the portal entrance. He kept lifting his head and opening his mouth. Sinegar's lips were curled back, and his golden eyes squinted. “Please Alice, we must leave.”
The Master at Arms reached for her forearm, ushering her toward the golden-laced portal behind Sinegar. On the other side of the portal, the Castle residents were filling up space. The residents were conflicted about their responses. Some were confused and unaware of why the alarm was sounding. Their pain was expressed across their faces, tears rolled down their cheeks, and the community embraced them for comfort. Alice shrugged off the Master-at-Arms’ hand and looked back out the window in time to see the skies light up again and round multi-tailed or armed things falling from the sky. The shield had failed.
“Alice, Alice!” shrieked Sinegar. “Get away from the shield, the creatures are destroying it!” The Master-At-Arms ignored her attempt to protest and scooped up Alice and her colorful skirt racing toward the portal. Sinegar was on his heels as his guards turned to face the incoming threat. Alice was practically thrown through the portal, desperately clinging to her journal. The set of Knights backed into the portal just as the windows were broken in. Large dark shadowed creatures with multiple toothy legs burst into the room. Alice backed up trying to catch sight of the creatures that were moving around the portal with an investigating focus. The Knights formed a wall between the portal entrance and the invading army.
“They are trying to kill us all,” whispered a terrified voice behind Alice, reminding her of where she was and what was taking place on around her. Voices lifted to counter the concern as Alice took in her surroundings. The other four sanctum portals were taking in residents. The second sanctum in the main gatehouse was used by incoming chapelmen and priests. They were soaking wet and exhausted. The sounds of moaning and the wailing of the injured begin to register in her mind as A chapelman is brought in via a gurney through the final sanctum. The river sanctum was nearly empty. One guard stood just outside the portal with his sword at the ready. The doors and windows were locked in his room. Lightning lit up the windows in his sanctuary hall, revealing a barnyard and the shadow of the castle beyond.
“Abandon your station, join us in the Sanctuary,” Alice called to everyone within hearing range. “Abandon your station, the Queen summons your guard.” Alice heard commanding voices echoing through the sanctuary.
A line of knights pushed Alice as they backed through the portal. The Master-At-Arms backed into the sanctuary last. Weapons at the ready, the able-bodied soldiers and men stood in rows between the residents that made it to the sanctuary and the portals.
“Why don't they follow?" One voice asked.
“We are trapped!” Another voice cried in despair.
“We are going to die!” A defeated voice sobbed.
“No, you will not die here," Sinegar assured as he continued licking his fur. His tongue combed through the hair, leaving perfectly manicured tracks in his black fur. “The monsters will never be granted permission to pass through the gates of our father DraculFae. He designed these gates to protect his daughters. The enemy will never pass the threshold, as long as our faith leads our hearts.” The priests prayed, falling to their knees and summoning the mother’s protection.
The creatures stopped at the mirrored view, inspecting the frame, as if in response to Sinegar’s observation. They slowed down and made eye contact with the cat. “Can they hear us?” asked one of the knights, placing a satchel on the ground beside Alice.
“Thank you,” Alice said while exhaling. She was looking down at the satchel and box the Knights had placed at her feet. The box had a dragon seal on the face of the dark redwood. A focused and golden yellow gemstone eye set in the grasp of an onyx dragon surrounding the lake. The dragon’s onyx was so pure and imbued with magic it refracted dark greens, browns, and reds in intricate scaled detail. As Alice looked up she was met with the concentrated intensity of the shadow-mutated creature's stare.
Alice's mind was filled with a sense of knowing as their eyes met. “They are changing,” she whispered, backing away from the portal.
The room quieted down to her movement and all eyes looked through the portals to see that around them the bulbous creatures were mutating and coming together. In their bodies, they absorb the dead and injured into a greater form of themselves. The black and toothy creatures pulled the bodies of men, priests, gardeners, and foes together into a growing monstrosity. Arms, legs, torsos, teeth, and eyes all moved with gruesome fluidity through the gelatinous matter forming a new entity with the combined forms and features of many.
“The portal will not let ill intent pass through, only a pure soul may pass.” The Bishop stated with authority. His white and gold robes were splattered with mud and possibly blood. “The portals offer a mirrored view both ways so those who cannot pass may say goodbye and so those who did pass know when it is safe to return.” He pointed to a man being pulled into the conjoined and mutated creature. The man was terrified, his face distorted in fear and possibly pain. He was wearing an orange shirt and his brown and broken teeth were dripping with blood from a busted lip and a head wound.
“Craig” a small female voice called out in recognition of the man before he disappeared into obscurity. The monstrous form was growing larger on the other side of the three portals. The mutated creature was covered in shifting and active flesh. The creature grew with each bulbous creature added, becoming a troll of sorts.
Once each massive troll form seemed to be complete, no longer pulling in and merging with their dead and captured, they turned to stare at the portals in unison. They moved in sync with variations in how they rested in place. One bent down to look in, and the second charged toward the portal, barely avoiding crashing into it. The third lay down leaning on a disfigured arm but keeping malicious eye contact. The fourth sat cross-legged with its chin in the palms of its massive hands. All four looked past the crowd and focused directly on Alice, their eyes all finding her at exactly the same moment. The troll-like beings were covered in bubbling, shifting flesh with thousands of sets of eyes. All the eye pupils strained to see Alice. Alice felt a chill come over her as the foul creatures stared. Her heart raced as she felt their gaze burning into her. She felt her courage wavering as she realized the gravity of the situation.
The room was still. No one dared make a sound. Suddenly, Alice steeled her nerve and stepped forward. She was determined to face her fears and show the creatures that she was not afraid. "Can they see me through the portal?" She asked allowed.
"No, highness." echoed between guardsmen and priests.
"Highness, it is supported as a mirrored view." The Bishop added.
She held her head high and met the gaze of each one, unafraid. She stepped to the left and watched as the many eyes followed her movements. Each troll in each portal seemed to sense her every move. Her courage and resilience in the face of danger were evident and gave her an aura of power. After a breath, it became obvious that hundreds of eyes were starting to move together merging into the upper center of the form and creating faces. The bodies were still transforming. They were all surrounded by these monsters, creatures that had been created out of the energy or magic she had yet to understand. They were tall and fierce looking, with sharp claws, and seemed to glow in an unnatural light. She could feel their power and their anger, and yet she stood tall and unafraid, radiating a strength that could not be taken away. When the last of the eyes joined in, two distinctly angry eyes were staring at Alice from each portal. Each troll smiled simultaneously, revealing thousands of teeth per mouth. Alice raised her chin and met their gaze, unflinching. She knew that she was their match, and she would not be intimidated. In a show of strength, she stepped forward, her courage radiating from her.
They moved together as if they shared one mind, Alice thought as the four mutated beasts stood to reveal massive legs where there were once faces. Moments later they pulled their hands together into double fists and pounded on the portal three times, resulting in complete destruction. The first impact cracked the frame of the portals. Gold's once smooth design revealed weakness. The crowd gasped and the priests began to pray louder. The second impact cracked the surrounding walls and fractured the stone floor on both sides and in front of each portal. The room erupted in prayer as Bishop fell to his knees calling for the mother’s protection. Portal access was shattered by the third strike. The sound was defined. It was a sound without description, but strong enough to be a weapon. It broke out into thousands of shards of glass. Then in the same scattered pattern, the glass froze midair. The shards of glass hung suspended in the air for a moment before falling to the floor in fat gelatinous clumps. There was no longer a view to the other side and the room was full of people writhing on the floor holding their ears and looking for injury.
The Bishop approached Alice whispering to her and possibly himself, “They destroyed all of our magical portals that lead to our sanctuary. The portal can only be accessed by those with pure hearts. Inside the sanctuary, the visitors can find peace and solace…” His voice trailed off and he paced in the other direction.
“They can also unlock the secrets of the destiny of the person. The priests have long tended to the portals. It was written that those who enter the sanctuary can be granted special powers to help them on their journey.” He turned back toward Alice, still speaking in a hushed tone.
“Those who enter must also be aware that the portal can close suddenly and without warning. Assuring the protection of access to the portals for all who pass through will be the priests' responsibility. Nothing was ever written about how we could respond if the portals were destroyed.” His pacing continued.
“We were instructed to be prepared for the unforeseen and have a plan in place to protect the portals if they were threatened. As priests, it was their responsibility to be aware of the grave consequences of closing a portal. We were instructed that all efforts must be made to prevent such a scenario.
In one night, all four portals lost their libraries of resources, and we lost our home. We have been devastated by the news and the magnitude of the situation. We are helpless to do anything but mourn the loss and discover what we can about what has just happened. The consequences of these actions will reverberate through the generations to come if we fail to act and discover a way to rebuild.”
Sinegar sat back on his haunches and lifted his foot high above his head. "Well, that’s that! I suppose. Where is here by the way?” He wondered, looking around at the four formal portals now reduced to a gelatinous puddle of chunks. After a few minutes of silence about him and dramatic long strokes with his tongue licking the back of his thigh for exaggerated effect, he added a bit to himself but loud enough for his immediate audience to hear" Bishop did I hear you say superpowers?
Disclaimer: This is my original work. I am sharing in hopes of finding insight, motivation, and a community of support.
It is important to note that this is a work of fiction. In this book, the author (Dr. Constance Quigley) has created names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents that are either imaginary or are used in a fictitious manner for the sake of entertainment. If there is any resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, or to any actual event, it is purely coincidental.
About the Creator
Dr. Constance Quigley
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” -J.R.R. Tolkien
No Advice Given. Constance Quigley, DM-OL, owns all work contained here. The work is fictional and is not based on fact.
Great job Constance. A lot of fantastic and exciting visuals.