Sunday, November 28, 2010

To the Gate

The destruction grew as I neared the gate. There was not a single tree standing, nor any sign of life. What had been a thriving forest was now a dead place, silent under the snow.

I found the Gate, and it still stood for no known force could destroy such a thing, but even the air around it felt wrong. It felt as though there were a thousand tiny rips in the walls that separated the two worlds, opening and closing with no pattern or plan.

But the way through the Gate was no longer barred to me, and I summoned all of my strength. I spoke the words of opening carefully and clearly, and prepared for the warmth of a sudden summer breeze and the scent of the Realm to waft through the Gate.

Fire and ash blasted my face, and I stumbled back, coughing and retching. My clothing had caught fire in the heat that came from the other side of the Gate, and I slapped at the flames.

When I finally looked through the Gate, I saw a horrifying landscape. What had been a long rolling expanse of grass, leading down to a set of gardens, was now burned black, with glowing embers beneath, as if the bedrock itself were melting away. The air, which once had been filled with the scent of flowers and running water, was choked with floating ash and smoke. The sun's light filtered dimly through the clouds, shining a ghastly orange. No tree stood within the Summer Realm as far as I could see.

And the screaming...I did not know what could be left alive in all that destruction to scream so loudly, but the hills echoed with the sound.

I lifted up my eyes to the distant hills, where the great city of the Realm had once stood, and what I saw there unmade my mind.

For the gardens of the city were gone, turned to piles of cinders, and over it all towered a dragon, reaching out across the land with vast wings, and tentacles like some monster from the depths of the sea.

When next I looked around me, I was running through the snows of the human world, crying and babbling. Vasilissa, the exile of the Summer Realms, had gone mad.

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