Wayland, having fallen from the path as a unseen force blinked his inamorata out of existence, wakes in a world where life is no longer quite the same.
For those new to the tale you might want to read the previous extract in order to become familiar with his plight. The link is below.
In part three, our intrepid blacksmith finds himself waking up after being cast aside and out of consciousness as something steals Tara from his grasp.
If you want to see more then please refer to the blurb at the end, and please feel free to share any of my posts. It will be hugely appreciated!
When Wayland awoke time had moved on. The sun was riding high. His mouth was like sandpaper, and dried blood caked the left side of his temple where the stump had claimed his conscious. Everything hurt, and fever rippled through his body; made worse by the blistering heat from above, which had already turned much of the skin on his arms and neck red. Blinking he tried to move, but weakness scourged his muscles forcing him to fall back.
Tara where are you?
The thought scythed through the mind fog, and clarity burst through. If he was here, then where was she? He recollected being thrown off the edge of the path, and hearing her scream but beyond that…nothing at all. Except,
I was in the dark, running from something and you were gone. Then I was imprisoned and they told me it was your fault. That you never loved me and I was being turned into a monster.
Dear God she knew.
Confusion ran wild. Why did she agree to walk with him if she knew? Was she unsure? It was too much and tears of pain welled from his eyes and a cry filled the air before the darkness claimed him once more.
In the field two labourers stopped their toil and looked toward the woods.
“Did you hear that Bryn?”
“Aye, and it sounded like the devil got someone’s soul.”
Jon took a step forwards.
“It could be Wayland or Tara; neither came home last eve. They could be in trouble.”
“Ye may be right. Best we go to see.”
Both men set of at pace toward the base of the incline, at the edge of the flood field where the grass lay uncut and tall. It was here they came across Wayland.
“What in God’s name.” Bryn knelt beside the smith.
What he saw turned his stomach. Wayland was unconscious, that much was clear, as was the wound to the head caused during the fall. The rest looked like fire had flailed his skin leaving it blistered and peeling.
“Jon, fetch the cart.”
Wayland found conscious on the journey back as the cart rumbled over uneven ground, and wagon ruts baked under the sun. He was under damp sacking, which offered some relief from the heat above, but his body felt on fire. Strange deliriums walked across his mind. Dragons weaving and scorching the earth and strange creatures flying overhead; though he knew his eyes were not ready to open. He could hear hushed voices in the front of the palanquin. They sounded concerned, almost scared.
“Faster” said one, “I’m trying” replied the other.
Wayland recognised neither, lost as he was in hallucinations of the mind. The Black Dragon was absorbing. It swooped and sprayed flame, igniting fields and a hay-barn. A man also, who was drawing a longbow that never got to release it’s arrow before the charred remnants of the archer fell to the ground. These things were all new to the blacksmith. He found them fearful and prophetic; real and yet in a dream. The voices in the cart carried on as the darkness claimed him once more.
It was like that four times before he awoke, and silence befell his ears. The jostling had stopped suggesting the cart was stationary. The Black was perched on a ruinous building that might have been a chapel rather like the one he was going to wed someone in….his mind was not clear in that matter. He remembered going for a walk with a girl but the rest was fog. Thinking hurt, so he let it by; things were wrong, but right now he was in real trouble. This much he knew.
Next time his eyes flicked open it was dark and a ceiling looked down at him in the flickering glow of a candle. He felt cold, which was a change from burning. The Black had gone from his hallucinations, although he was uncertain if he was looking at reality.
His corroded memory was piecing things together, but kept locking onto a daisy withering in the dusk air. He tried to turn his head but nothing happened. Panic crawled in as, limb by limb, he found nothing moved and everything was slowing. He heard an owl, somewhere outside, and tried to call out. In his head it was clear “Please help me, is anyone here?” Nothing left his lips. Terror purged through his blood, but found no method of release save for the emptiness inside his mind.
The Black appeared; this time on the ground. It walked ever closer, standing taller than any building Wayland had witnessed. The creatures eyes were ice and all things putrified before it. He tried to shut it out, but his eyes no longer wanted to close. A taloned foot descended towards his head and he felt his bladder empty. Inside, he screamed as the foot came down and again his waking world fell into the abyss.
Voices woke him.
“He won’t last much longer.” A female voice; tantalisingly familiar but beyond his memory.
“Aye, the heart is slowing and nothing stirs him.” This one he knew as the village priest.
I’m awake screamed his mind. Desperately he tried to move…anything and everything. He felt strong as an ox, but nothing wanted to comply. The ceiling was his vista and his ears the link to his surroundings. Calming he listened.
Things were magnified beyond anything he could remember. Outside insects were clicking, caterpillars chewing leaves, wind rolling through grasses. Far in the distance the river washed over stones and collided with banks before eddying and swirling ever downstream until it met the mill, which creaked as the weight of flow turned the wheel. Each of these things he could hear intimately, and the sounds drew the pictures; a hawk flapping high up in the sky and the squeal of a field mouse as it descended like stone. The wind noise rushing audible as it fell.
Within the room the whispers briefly became shouts until his subconscious turned them down. Underneath all, he could hear the heartbeats of those standing looking over him. He could see the red corpuscles colliding in veins and arteries as they coursed through ever diminishing capillaries. The sound of air filling lungs; and the blood. The mind drew the blood forwards; drop by drop until it entered the great pump beating at the core.
With some effort Wayland forced himself to focus on the voices. One in particular; a man that stood near the woman. Strong he was. His blood surged, powered by a muscle that throbbed in Wayland’s mind.
“No sign of Miss Spinlow yet. Half the village has scoured the path top and bottom all the way to the folly and 100 feet into the wood. Not even the dogs can find a scent. It’s like she just disappeared.”
The woman was sobbing. Wayland could hear the tears dripping down her face. Spinlow…I know that name.
“But you can’t just disappear into thin air. That would need…”
She trailed off to be overtaken by the priest.
“Witchcraft or worse. Whatever hit the boy here sent him clean over the edge and down the drop.”
“Worse?” said the man with the loud heart, “what could be worse?”
“The dark hides many creatures; not all of them play by our rules Merek. We have our God to seek comfort with, and where there is God there are adversaries constantly battling.”
The heart has a name. Wayland played with this…Merek Blackwater of the mill. I know him. He heard the priest draw closer and begin to pray for him. Pain rippled through him in response. Bright lights and stars filled his mind until the Black ploughed through it all and cast him back into the pit.
On the next waking he sensed his grip on the past failing fast. All save one, that came to him in a dream deep inside the unconscious abyss. The girl he saw was bewitched and vacant. Her dress ripped down to the waist exposing skin and breast, red with blood that seeped from two wounds in her neck. Runes were etched on each wall and upon the floor was drawn a massive pentagram whose points were connected by a circle of white. The girl was chained to a stake in the centre and the room suffused in incense and smoke spewing from torches and candles. Dark hooded figures moved round the outside of the circle chanting in some language he knew not. The girls head raised upwards and he watched her mouth call out his name.
Wayland’s mind broke out and back into the broken confines of his dying body. Tara Spinlow. His mind screamed outwards in grief and remembrance. She had agreed to wedlock moments before he fell. But even in that she had seen the outcome in a dream the night before. Wayland made an oath:
If I survive this ordeal then I swear on my forefathers I will find you Tara, and take revenge on those that did this.
The Black clearly agreed and let him lose the world some more.
The darkness of subconscious cleared placing him in another dreamscape to walk with visions of other places. The dragon was there again, ever watchful and curled up with enormous horned tail wrapped up against it’s jet black body. It’s maw widened revealing long canine teeth near the front. Almost the length of Wayland’s arm, thickset at the base and rising to points that would rip armour to shreds. Four incisors, top and bottom, rested between ready to sever bone and flesh alike. Behind these, and pointing slightly backwards, were rows of pointed teeth. Amidst the jaws, snaked a forked tongue, byzantium in colour and continuously tasting the air for scents that might need scourging of life.
Vast eyes matching the tongue surveyed the ground below it’s perch. A half moon shaped plateau, outside a cavernous opening half way up a sheer cliff face, nestled on the edge of a mountain that rose into the clouds. Below rested the petrified burnt out skeletons of a village with caved in roofs and lifeless orchards. Fire had bathed this place, and sterilised it all the way to the baked mud at it’s roots. In the far horizon, he could see the edge of a long wall of trees over which the air shimmered in a haze of heat. Between that and the mountain the land was desolate and pitted. Relics of battle lay scattered as bones and fleshless bleached skeletons lay rising in anguish from the scarred mud.
Why am I here?
Wayland was confused. Here he felt alive and well; able to move and feel. But horror lived in every direction and above, from it’s lair, The Black watched on. It was not a place to linger.
Smith…I see you.
Wayland started. There was evil in his mind. Cold words creeping across his unconscious conscious and rich in melancholia. Glancing round he was drawn up to the plateau where The Black was reared up on hind quarters unfurling huge six ribbed wings ending in curled talons. Webs of weathered skin spread out over the, leaving the horned tips protruding at the rear. It’s neck stood proud and layered with scutes whose edges shimmered in a purple haze, where the sun reflected.
It was the eyes that captured Wayland; for these were settled right upon his.
You are a figment of my mind Dragon…begone.
Deep throated laughter rippled over his mind.
You think Smith?
The Black dropped off the plateau and the wings took air, lifting him upwards to circle high above the ant of a man down below.
This was a new voice, a girl. Not any girl though, Wayland knew this one; in this unconscious realm his memory functioned perfectly.
The Dragon’s spirals dwindled as he tipped his wings and began to descend.
Ignore her Boy.
“Where are you Tara?”
No time, get out before the beast consumes you.
Wayland was aware a dark shadow now fell over the ground following. The Black was closing.
“How? I have nowhere to run.”
He could feel panic stirring and his heart throbbing in his ears. Around him the world was a desert of ash. The forest was leagues away and the cliff housed the lair. But this is a dream.
Are you certain of that?
The dragon was taunting.
Just wake up Wayland.
Tara was screaming at him. In desperation he was backing away from the cliff; not that it would help, but standing still seemed nearly as pointless. The Black had him.
You are already dead in that world Boy.
Looking up he could see the beasts hind legs draw up and flex five byzantium talons on each foot, ready to crush him. Fear paralysed his ability to move; his eyes locked onto the size of the claws. Hope fled.
Wayland Ferrars wake up right now or you will never see me again.
Tara roused his subconscious mind. She was pleading now and courage coursed through his veins. The Black crushed down and this world fell into shadow.
About here I usually ramble. Scene three of this chapter. I enjoyed writing about Wayland. His path reaches a form of conclusion by the end. Beyond that the creature existing in a dark world must decide. I hope you found this scene as entertaining as it was to construct.
I think it a shame that you can’t read the entire chapter in one sitting. I feel it strength lies in the fullness of text.
Nevertheless I thank you for making it this far. Please feel free to like, comment, share or just turn back to find a more worthy trail.
© G Jefferies and Fictionisfood, 2016. All rights reserved.