The gilded sun beams over the horizon, light softly touches the hills and creeks; the afternoon warmth bestows its blessing onto the lathe of Eleron. Springtime is magnificent this time of year, a crisp clear air fills the town; flowers of pinks and golds pave the trails and cherry pollen blows swiftly in the breeze. It is the perfect season for a humble fisherman and his grandson, a boy of eighteen, to snatch their takings from the sea.
The season runs short in the south, as the spring is warm the colder months creep briskly upon its people. Eli has fished these waters for years; Eleron was a place he felt truly at peace in what could seem a dark world at times. A quaint land, inhabited by farmers, fisherman and maidens; a land that had been somewhat forgotten by the great north. But what she lacked in riches she gained in beauty; with lakes and streams, rolling hillsides and pear trees lining the cobblestone pathways, Eleron, and its livelihood by the sea, beckoned a simple existence.
“Slowly boy, patience. All good things require patience.” Eli twists his white whiskers around his cracked old fingers, curling them gently as he watches Emory; the young boy roughly guts the little bluefish. Eli crouches, the sound of his aged spine makes a distinct crack as he bends over; he begins unraveling the net that bears their supper.
“We will feast tonight, boy. Whitefin and red crab, a good yield. The Gods are shining down on us today.”
Emory carefully slices the center of the belly, sliding the steel blade down the fish’s flanks. He thinks for a moment of the Gods, about all that Eli had taught him of their mercy and their wrath. But today is the day the Gods are gracious. Emory smiles at the flapping fish in the net, the large red crab snapping its pincers; he is proud of their haul. He gazes up at Eli, a warm smile creeps upon his wrinkled white face as he stares contently over the rocks, gently catching splashes of the waves. His pale blue eyes reflect that of the calm waters; flickers of gold speckle gleam through his eyes.
Emory gathers the fish-guts into a woven basket, blood filling his open palms and dripping down his wrists. The guts will be boiled into a broth. Solids upset Eli’s stomach; broth helps keep his organs moist. Eli picks up his rickety oak cane, leaning all his weight forward onto it. He holds his grey robe up, his knees wobble as he climbs up the limestone steps towards the opening of the forest. Emory drops the basket and fishing implements, reaching out his bloody hand. “Boy, you handle the fish, I’m an old man, but not an old spirit”. Eli’s voice shakes along with his knees in the wind. The afternoon grows chilly. The spring days are warm in Eleron; the nights are cold as the dead.
It is a brisk walk to the tiny stone cottage, about five miles from the coast. It is dusk when they arrive, frost creeps upon the thin glass. The little orphan girl, twelve-year-old Ada, comes running towards Eli. She has a boyish nature; a wild spirit. “Little one, what are you doing outside at this hour!” Ada smirks cheekily, she often comes around to spend time with Eli and Emory, she doesn’t like the orphanage.
“A man in armor came to see you, he left this.” She hands Eli a scrolled note. Eli reads; the look of fear creeps upon his face.
“Go on girl, they will be wondering where you are. We will read tomorrow, yes?” Ada nods, and scurries away.
Eli enters his cottage, creeping over to his old wooden rocking chair, sitting down to rest. Emory removes Eli’s wooden shoes, his feet cold and pale, a tinge of violet-red. He cleans off his bloody hands and begins rubbing Eli’s tired old feet with a warm wet cloth, then turns his attention to the fireplace, kindling begins to burn into the log. “Get the broth ready quickly, I must tell you something very important.” Emory loved hearing his grandfather’s tales. They made him long for an adventurous life of chambers and wildcats in the Dorohames, serpents and slaves past the glass sea; the most desired women of the Coloured Sands, the Isle of Caves that housed the most powerful sorcerers, and the Gods, that ruled over the Old, New and the White World. Eli required no book for telling such stories, for they were locked away in his fantastical, brilliant mind. A teacher of philosophy, he had read thousands of books and mentored hundreds of men that traveled to seek his wisdom. A respected man of the village, although often Eli’s bleak sense of humor cut people short; they knew not how to respond without appearing foolish, against such a man of insight and wit.
Eli holds his bowl of fishbone broth to his thin lips; he seems troubled. Eli’s hands shake, and the bowl slips to the floor, smashing into a thousand pieces.
“Grandfather!” yells Emory, rushing to Eli’s aid.
“Don’t fuss, I’m alright. Go to the library. Get the old white book, ‘The White World’, hidden in the back is a tiny little black notebook. Bring it to me.” Emory runs towards the library, home to stacks of books that reached the ceiling, books of history, tall-tales, poetry and law.
There it was— a little black book, hidden in the back of the old torn pages of the White World. Emory brings it to his weary grandfather, and sits at his frosty feet. “My boy, wev'e spoke of many things. This is one tale I never wished to tell.” Eli's hands shake, as he grasps the little black book. His blue eyes become wide and wet. “I am going to tell you what happened to your parents.”
Emory freezes, looking firmly at Eli. “You said they died at sea?”
“Now that you are old enough, it's time you knew the truth.”
Eli opens the notebook and shows Emory the names. Names of men, women, children, written in black ink. Pages and pages of names, Emory flicks through, until he sees the names of his parents: Avelyn and Oswin Romolius.
“Emory, we haven’t much time. What I’m about to tell you is going to change the course of things to come. Many years ago, your parents were in charge of gathering all the most intelligent men, women and children, writing their knowledge into books that would fill the King's library. it seemed an innocent task. But the King soon realized he could use knowledge to gain power. He was able to fight wars with stronger forces, acquire more land, and tear the very fabrics of our land apart. The more he learned, the more powerful he became. When your parents discovered they were assisting in making a selfish King more powerful, a King who would lead us to a darker world, they refused to obey his commands. For that betrayal, they were set on a ship across the glass sea, bound for the Land of Lost Souls.”
“I thought it was a myth! They say all those that go to the Land of Lost Souls never return. they do not live, nor die, they are spirits, hollow, searching for life or death, but they never do.”
“Yes, It is real. The land takes the mortal life from all that set upon her shores.”
Fury begins to tear through Emory, “Why are you telling me this?”
“Because I was the man that wrote the names in this book.”
Silence. Emory backs away from Eli. “You sent my parents to their death, your own daughter? How could you do it? Why did you?!” he howls.
“When they took your parents the king wanted to take you too. I couldn’t save her.” Eli’s eyes well up with tears. “I would have gladly given my life for my daughters.” Emory breathes deeply, his anger slowly subsiding.
“The King made a deal. We would live a quiet life in Eleron, and I would become the writer of knowledge. As a final punishment for your parents betrayal, I was made charge of writing the names. Every name you read in this book is a name I have written. A name that has defied the King, one who has had their life stripped from them, in the Land of Lost Souls. The orphan girl, Ada, her mother’s name is too in the book.”
Emory drops to his knees sobbing, mourning the loss of his parents, and the betrayal of his grandfather.
“I made the ultimate sacrifice, to keep you safe. I am the last standing man that knows of the terrors the King has done. Besides you. You now too know of this book. Today the King’s guard came with a note, summoning me to the castle. I know too much, and I will be killed. I am an old man, that has lived a blessed life, I accept my fate. But you must take this book and go forth to save all those that have lost their freedom.”
“It’s too late grandfather, they are soulless people, their spirits have died.”
“No, boy! There is a way. I have searched a cure for years. All you need to know is in the back of this notebook; a map to the island, the passageway that will take you there, the formula for new life.”
“Grandfather, I have never left Eleron, I know nothing of the world, after all, I am just a boy.”
Eli looks sternly into Emory’s eyes. “I call you boy, but you are a man. I have taught you well. You have the soul of an adventurer, the heart of a warrior and your parents gentle spirit. You have everything you need to survive.”
Eli hobbles to the nightshade, picking up a bag of coin. “Take this, it's everything I have. These are sapphire coins, their worth will come to twenty thousand, it's more than enough to see you through. You will set off tonight, before they come for us both.”
“I cannot take this, I cannot leave you grandfather,” Emory weeps.
Eli grasps the boys shoulders, smiling gently, “You are worth, so much more to me. I will not be far behind. I will see you in the other world.”
Emory clenches the coin and the book, leaving the cottage. Ada, the little orphan girl, never went back. She was listening outside the cottage. “I am coming with you!” She gives Emory a terrible fright.
“Ada, you’ve been here the whole time? you shouldn’t be here, go home!”
Ada rolls her eyes. The feisty young girl can hold her own. “I don’t have a home, remember? My mother was too taken to the Land of Lost Souls! It’s my right just as much as yours. You will take me, or I will tell the King about you, and that book!”
Emory stares into her black eyes. He knows the stubborn girl will not listen.
“I don’t eat much. I know the land, you have only read about it. You need me more than I need you.” Ada’s wild matted hair blends into the night sky. Emory lets out a somber sigh.
“Alright,” he moans. “But just don’t get in my way”.
“You will get in your own way” Ada mutters. She reveals Mika, a beautiful brown horse, hidden at the back of the cottage.
“Whose horse is that?” Emory asks, curiously.
“I stole her, from the orphanage. They never treated me well, why do you think I’m so skinny? Anyway, you don’t expect us to walk all the way to the boat, do you?”
Emory slaps his hand to his forehead. “This will be a long journey. . .”
Ada, Mika and Emory trot silently into the night. Ada stares up at the stars, proclaiming with fierce excitement to the Gods: “This will be a fantastic adventure!”
Youth Justice Worker, Teacher. Writing a memoir. From beautiful Australia, with Italian heritage. Much love to you all and to all that send me tips and love for whatever wierd stuff comes out of my head, it is very much appreciated. xx Mel