The Black watched on as, through the debris of ancient battle, the Smith walked between life and death. Two worlds, two paths; one outcome.
Wayland, having been thrown from the arms of his inamorata by an unseen force, has awoken in a dying body drifting between two plains of concious. Taunted in one by, The Black, and haunted in another, locked inside a dead body.
If, by any chance, you are new here then it might serve plot purposes to begin at the beginning; in chronological order…
Wayland took stock. It was pitch black and he was back inside the broken body. He smelt cut wood, oak if he was not mistaken. There was thicker blood nearby; horses. He could feel their pulses and smell their damp coats.
Raining here too, he thought; although quite where else it was raining escaped him now.
The two worlds were separating and, with that, his conscious and unconscious minds were no longer in unison.
There was a man in front of the horses. His blood was sweeter. It was still dark, but now he could sense bumps and jolts. He was on a cart, and it was moving. Pulled by the horses no doubt, and worked by the man.
His mind went back to his last waking thoughts. The priest declaring him dead and the blanket over his face. Now he was in the dark on a cart filled with the scent of wood. That could only mean one thing. He was boxed and ready for the cemetery.
Devoid of chemistry, his mind could only scream into the darkness. Unheard by anything of this world; entirely alone with his cataclysmic despair, with just the aroma of wood and the sounds of the cart rumbling over uneven tracks to keep him company. That and the incessant poundings of muscles pumping blood through arteries and veins in both horses and their teamster. Anger replaced the terror and he called on the God of the priest.
Why have you abandoned me?
A pointless question he knew; they had abandoned the old pagan Gods during the Roman occupation. The priest was given rights to the the village church if he converted. A turncoat from one to another forced upon them by invasion. Wayland did not hold much faith. Not now. His question was met by silence. The anger became rage.
We were to be wed in your building. To live our lives and raise children and you have forsaken us. Is this how you bind your flock?
He could not even shed a tear. There was no life processes working. He was locked inside a dead body, in a box and soon that too would be entombed in the earth. This was no way to end things.
Fire burned in his head. Frustration igniting as his mind imploded into emptiness once more
The rain had stopped back in the world where mind and body were whole again. Here the other place seemed like some deviant nightmare that was fading like a bad dream.
Hell of a way to end up, trapped inside your own head slowly going insane.
The two were separating now. Memories from one slowly bleeding away. Even Tara seemed distant here. It was strange though. He knew nothing about this place, other than he must get to whatever the dragons died trying to protect. Food and water were unimportant. He could not remember consuming anything here either. Odd, but not a growing concern. Something nagged on this. It should be a concern, for they are life.
As is the blood. Where that thought sprang from he knew not.
Looking back, toward the forest, he noticed it seemed much further away. Conversely, the mountain was less than half a days walk.
How did that happen? He shrugged it off.
The balance of man to dragon,on the battlefield, was less favourable on dragon. Their remains were growing in number. The first encountered were vast humongous beasts, this was diminishing, and the relics were, whilst still large, less massive.
Skeletons dressed in rotting armour showed the cost to men was high. Ground had not been given lightly, even here. His gaze wandered over the plain before meeting the rock face ahead. Lifeless and black. Leafless trees reaching toward the greyed clouds raging above; charcoaled and petrified in time.
Underfoot something crunched, dismantling into dust, leaving half a skull fragment. Wayland noticed a silver chain and knelt to untangle it from the bones. He wiped ash and dirt from the surface of a pendant. A band of silver lay around highly polished obsidian. Set in the centre lay a small ruby; infused into the stone seamlessly.
It reminded Wayland of the eyes of The Black; cold, dark and insane. He blinked and considered it might be staring right back at him. Imagination the curse of fear. Briefly, the stone warmed before turning ice cold; or was that subliminal too? Without thinking he placed the chain around his own neck and offered token words of prayer to the remains below. False words he knew, as the Gods had left him somewhere. How he knew that had left his memory in this world.
Standing, his eyes wandered the horizon. Briefly, the hackles on his neck stirred and there was an overwhelming feeling he was being watched. Nothing moved save dust and ash. The dead were dead and unlikely to rise after so long on the killing fields. He moved forwards, and almost tripped on the rotted armour of the bones that gave up the pendant. Parts of it disintegrated revealing further treasures. Wayland’s eyes fell upon the jewelled hilt of an obsidian sword. Again he stooped to pick it up; not quite a two handed weapon, but balanced and sharp as the day it was imbibed with sorcery to hue it into a blade that held strength like steel, but edged in a way no metal could be.
The blacksmith in him had heard of such, in days long ago, but never had he seen one in the real. Dragon blades they were called, although in his time there were no wyverns left to slay and the dark arts of forging had been lost in antiquity.
My time, Wayland chewed this over.
This was not his place or time and yet all he knew of his past was smithing; and a night where he lost the world. Although, that was more like some distant dream getting further and further away. He kicked the remnants below, watching metal dust crumble exposing bones, and a scabbard still fresh. Enchanted sheath for enchanted blade. This he collected also, strapping it against his left hip where the sword was reacquainted with it’s home. Not that it would do him much good in a fight, but it matched the pendant and was no longer needed by the previous owner; not that it did him much good at the end.
He marched onwards, eyes fixed on the mountain ahead. Soon he would reach the foothills and then,maybe, an answer would be become clearer.
Atop a cliff, some leagues away, The Black saw the man crouch down and stare into the Dragon’s Eye. In that moment it saw more of the mind inside the flesh. Haunted and split in two worlds. Locked doors hid memories the Smith was no longer seeing. The dragon knew the man was dead in the other place and walking this one with purpose, and yet not knowing why. Muscles flexed along it’s spine and stygian wings unfurled accompanied by the rise of head as its maw moved side to side tasting the winds.
Death and silence still reigned in the lands this side of the forest barrier, even now after so very long. The beast knew where Wayland was travelling; he had the Eye after all. Picked up off his slain rider at the end of days when dragon kind was swept from the world. None but The Black remained and he was as dead as the Smith in the other world. A shadow lingering in the wastelands haunting those that bled through in death. Lonely in vigil over a once sacred place that now housed the remains of the past. Ethereal white fire filled the sky in rage and anger. The Smith was safe as long as he bore the Eye of the Black.
The cart hit a rut and Waylands conscious leapt back into his earthly body, now locked inside a coffin on the way to eternal unrest. Briefly, he saw a black dragon light the darkening sky and the echo of madness filling the airs where only crows flew now.
Smith are you there?
Waylands mind stepped back inside itself and away from thoughts of despair at being alive in what must be death. The blood of beasts pulling the wagon, and man driving them, was intense and hot. Heartbeats pulsing in his thoughts creating a thirst like nothing in living memory.
Speak with your mind Boy or are you struck dumb as well as dead?
He knew the guttural voice. Somewhere in time it had come to him before, when Tara had told him to run. Here he remembered her well, so beautiful and intoxicating. Almost a wife until death, except death had claimed him somehow and stolen her to some other place. She had found him though, once, and saved him from something. Told him to run, but from what? That was now gone from his memory.
Who are you?
There was madness in the throated laugh.
I am the last of my kind in a world that massacred thousands to extinct us. I am Keeper of the Stones where the dying rest their bones until the end of time. I am the one who drew first blood on the last day. Soul brother to the bearer of the Dragons Eye until he was slain by magic as the younglings were butchered.
Wayland smelt the dead now. The journey was over and the horses were steaming in the rain. He heard the tailgate drop and the box began moving. Dragged over the wood and dropped to the ground.
What do you want with me?
You wield the Eye now Boy. What you see I see and if you are half the Soul Brother lost in time then soon you will understand.
The coffin was being dragged down a slope. The body within pressing against the wood. Unceremoniously rattling silently inside the darkness. The smell of damp oak filled his nostrils, and soon so did the aroma of fresh dug wet earth. His mind raged and struggled to move non responsive limbs. Silent “No’s” screaming into the void. Heard only by The Black, and a dreaming girl in another time. He could not move, sweat, thump, punch or speak. However, he could feel and smell and hear, as soil thumped down repeatedly on top of the box his body lay lifeless within. At first it was loud but soon it went from muffled to a distant thud and eventually a silence so absolute that it locked him in even deeper.
In his head words shrieked out in an abyss of despair.
I have no Eye, I am dead and not dead. The Gods can rot in their halls for all I care. Leave me be. I have nothing left…nothing.
Nothing and everything Boy. Walk the insanity and come back in your dreams but remember the Eye of the Dragon.
Wayland felt the beast leave and for an age he was truly alone. Rocking in his thoughts in darkness absolute, unable to move, unable to escape, unable to sleep; the haunting madness was begun.
Here lies chapters end. Wayland lying interred, changing, waiting for 300 years before the gnarled hand of the Necromancer stirs from afar.
His connection to The Black is unquestionable. Alive in one world and dead, but dreaming in madness, in another. Wayland wields the Dragon Eye now, unaware of its hold on the beast that guards the relics of what was. It too is bitter and living in two existences.
More there is not on this tale, not yet. The rest is panning out, but the direction is tied to the journey of a wizard and a girl in a coma. She has been met before in the manuscript under wraps and seeking a publisher. It is ready to go now…the where is uncertain.
As with the characters here, the girl in the coma is linked to another manuscript. One in which our world turns under the hands of a Necromancer. That book is also written and waiting for an edit.
Thank you all for reading up to here.
© G Jefferies and Fictionisfood, 2016. All rights reserved.