REALM'S END (BOOK OF FEY 1)

BOOK: REALM'S END (BOOK OF FEY 1)
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Book of Fey

Realm’s End

 

 

By

                                                                                                                                         Jules Hancock

                                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Text Copyright All rights reserved

©2015 Jules Hancock

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgments

 

For my book cover I want to thank Indie Spired Design. Kelly you rock!!!!

 

Thanks to my official readers Mike & LeAnn Moskowitz, and Sheri Kubista. All of your time and input was greatly appreciated! You are great readers!

 

 

Thanks to all you readers. I hope my book inspires you to dream a little.

 

A special thanks to my beautiful wife, Edie. I appreciate all you did so I could dream.

 

Thanks to my mom too. She always hoped I’d wake up and live my truth.

 

                                                                       

                                                                  

 

 

Prologue

 

 

High on a bare rock ridge, a tree stands overlooking the land of Corvine. It’s long been dead, yet it’s still marks the border between the realm of human and the realm of crow. In the tree’s great bare crown, three crow sisters perch, looking out over the beautiful rolling hills of Corvine.

“Alright the Fairy world is passing away. So what? If we dare to help you know Father will be cross with us. Remember what happened the last time he was angry? I’ve only just recently grown those tail feathers back, after the last debacle.” Hectain said.

Reval’s voice broke in. “Wait a minute, wait just a minute. I thought you said the Fey were in trouble? I thought it’s the Fey we would be helping?”

“Sister can you just stop dithering? Fairy, Fey, they are the same thing. Everyone knows that, you know that too. The point, my dear sister is one of us has to take human form if we are to help the human child go back in time. That alone will send Father through the roof. Regardless of what the fable says, I just don’t think we dare take this on.”

Reval raised her head and opened her beak. “I don’t want to go, this time,” she pouted. “I enjoy my nice warm feathers so much.” Tipping her head, she ran her beak lovingly over her breast feathers, pressing them neatly into place.  My dears, I don’t mind saying, I think I would go mad, if Father cursed my feathers to fall out.

Meredith sat demurely listening, as her older siblings haggled over the task. Abruptly she stood, snapping open her black wings, exposing them to the high wind. A blast of air coursed over her feathers, ruffling them into an iridescent mass in the bright morning sun.  Nonchalantly she settled herself back onto the branch and tightly folded her wings in against her body. “I’ll go.”

Hectain turned and hopped carefully along the dead branch, moving her feathered body toward her youngest sister. Cocking her head she squinted at Meredith. “Are you sure? It will be dangerous and you may have to stay in human form for days or weeks even.”

Meredith looked from sister to sister. “Yes, it may be dangerous, that’s true, but if we help, the girl might repair the timeline, and,” she said, hanging her head. “If I’m honest I feel called to go.”

“What about Father? You know he has warned us against meddling,” Reval said.

Meredith shrugged, “Well we all know I’m his favorite, so that might work to our advantage.”

The sisters sat silently then, watching as clouds rushed across the sky above their homeland. The morning passed, while they sat considering the task.

Suddenly Meredith lifted off. Her strong wings held her black body against the growing wind and turned toward her siblings. “I’m off, but before I go I remind you both. I will do this thing, but only as I see fit. There will be no interference from either of you. Understand?”

Hectain and Reval answered not at all, but their inner eyelids did slide back in surprise, momentarily exposing their unprotected eyes to the biting wind. The sisters’ beaks clicked as they agreed to Meredith’s demand.

Meredith clicked her beak twice and then turned her winged body easily into the wind and flew away toward the land of humans.

“What did she mean by, no interference?”

Hectain turned her head and spitefully used her beak to tap hard against Reval’s skull. “Don’t worry about that. We will be right there, watching over her of course.”

“Good. Just remember I don’t want to be a human.”

“Yes, yes. You don’t want to be human. That’s fine. Now let’s go see what Father is up too. I think it behooves us to ingratiate ourselves a little with him. Just in case.”

The sisters opened their wings and lifted off. The wind carried them away from the border and deeper into the realm of Corvine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Beginning

 

 

An oak log released a great cracking sound as it broke apart and fell crashing further into the deep stone fire pit.  Sparks rose up riding high on the heavy winds into the night sky. The moon was dark but the old woman stood silently staring upward searching the sky for a sign. Overhead the sky hung replete with millions of bright stars. Lillith sighed, she never had gotten used to so many stars. She shook her head, how could anyone find a sign with so many choices.  Slowly she turned her attention toward the flames as she lowered her frail body gently onto the seat already prepared for her, nearest to the central fire. She was tired and it would be a long night. “Come children,” Lillith said, patting the ground around her. “Sit here by the fire, and I will tell you the story of a long lost world.”

     Lillith’s many grandchildren, great grandchildren and great- great- grandchildren hurried to find seats around the perimeter of the central fire. The ground here was scoured by the winds down to bare white rock. Here, where the stone lip of land jutted out from the main body of the island. Seen from a distance the lip appeared to hang suspended like a ghost floating far out over the sea.  Animal pelts and grass mats had been laid down to cushion and warm the people who gathered here tonight. While some of the children chose their parents’ laps for comfort or warmth, all wanted to be as close as they could get to the old woman. More skins were brought out to cover everyone from the youngest to the oldest for it was a cold and windy night. Lillith pulled the bear skin closer. She thanked the spirit of the beast, long gone now, but not forgotten. Gratefully, she snuggled into its thick dark fur. Silently thanking the tribe’s women too, for it was they who continued season after season, to see that she was always protected from the elements, as much as possible.

Reba’s youngest daughter, Jesse, ran over and climbed directly into Lillith’s lap, the red haired child liked to cuddle and Lillith adored having her close. Finally, the rest of the tribe members came quietly,

 

respectfully, and crowded close around the fire, for it was a cold night and everyone one longed for the bright warmth of Lillith’s tale. The adults all knew the story by heart, yet they too, longed to hear again of the magical world that they all descended from.

     Lillith cleared her throat and began. “Tonight is the winter solstice, the day we keep in remembrance of the old world. Nearly five hundred years ago today, your granddad and I came into this world, from a world not physically much different from what you see around you, and yet it was in every other way completely different. It was a place of great magic,” Lillith said, her voice rising in excitement. “Right here, where we are sitting there used to be a great amphitheater. The amphitheater was created from all the stones whose spirits had passed on. Their bodies were laid in this place that was sacred to the realm.  All the tribes of the realm would gather there in community.” Lillith pointed at the wall that formed a semicircle behind her. “These few worn stones that we make our journey to each year, they are all that’s left of that physical world.” Lillith’s face shone bright, lit as it was by the firelight.

     Jesse turned and her bright green eyes looked up at the old woman’s face in the firelight. “Did rocks and trees really talk, Gran?”

     Lillith smiled down at the red-haired child curled up in her lap. She knew this one had the old energy. She could see it clearly like a blue thread weaving its way through her future, and it ran strong and true through the young girl. “Yes child they did, for you see in the realm there was very strong magic and all tribes benefited from that energy. We all worked together in community and no one tribe ruled over any other. Instead all the tribes worked for the good of the Realm, always for the good of the whole. Our job was to keep time in line and we all happily bent our magic to that task.”

     A toe-headed boy shyly whispered his question from the safety of his mother’s lap.

Lillith looked over at the shy lad, “Yes, Shil, in our own way I believe we did come across the great water, but of course it was not like you would think; not in a boat, nor on a raft,” she said, lifting one finger, “but you will have to wait little one for that part of the story until later. We need to start at the beginning.
After a lifetime here, I have come to realize this land is really very much like a weak memory of the Realm. It is beautiful in its own way, and our people have been blessed since our arrival, but my heart still aches when I think of what was lost in our coming here. I know that it’s hard for you to imagine, but everything had voice there. Birds, stones, trees, even the sea spoke when it wanted to. Which I have to say wasn’t very often.” She chuckled, as the firelight danced in her eyes.

     “Stones can’t talk.”

     Lillith tilted her head and gave the challenging youth a knowing look, “If you think back Boyne, you will remember when you were a wee lad that you carried on conversations with nearly everything. Why, you were even best friends with a great oak that stands in our summer home. Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten that?”

    Boyne looked sheepishly through his long dark bangs at the old woman. Nearby, he could see the adults smiling and shaking their heads in agreement. Boyne felt his cheeks growing hot. He was relieved the moonless night hid his blush of embarrassment.

     “Of course,” continued Lillith, “other things were different, too. Trees had their freedom, they moved about and the really old ones were looked on as wise guardians of the Realm. They protected the old ways. In fact it was because of a tree that all my trouble began. It was also because of a tree that our race was saved at all and of course because of one extraordinary young woman. Though she hasn’t yet been born, she is a relative you should all know about.”

     Lillith adjusted Jesse, and looked over at her youngest daughter, Reba. “Pour me out some of that chamomile tea, dear; it is a cold, cold night.”

     Reba’s beautiful red hair flashed in the firelight as she rose, circling the fire and retrieved the clay pot from where it rested in the ashes. She poured the brew into the old woman’s red clay cup, then knelt down and gently handed the cup to her mother. “Mother why not let the story go this year,” she whispered, softly. “You are worn out from the journey; you should be in your shelter resting.”

     “No dear, it must be tonight. I will be warm soon enough, don’t worry over that.” Lillith rubbed her knobby fingers gently across her daughter’s sun browned hand. “Thank you, child, but it seems I can’t live forever anymore, so let me at least do my duty.”

     Reba’s green eyes jerked quickly up catching a glimpse at her mother’s face; she saw deep exhaustion marked the old woman’s features. Reba’s hands shook as she made her way past her siblings, back around the fire to take a seat near her husband.

     Lillith sipped at the hot tea. As she did, she looked out at all the people gathered around the fire. She was proud of her strong children. They had known much hardship, but they were a good race of people. “Ahhh now, that washes out those frogs.” She smacked her lips as she gingerly set the cup down on the worn stones that stood near her furs.

     The youngest children giggled in delight.

     “Let me see now. Where was I?”

     “Gran you were telling how you got in trouble with the tree.” Agust’s voice rang out.

     “Oh yes, that’s right, thank you, Agust. There, in the place we called the Realm of time there was a giant old tree. An immense tree, a real beauty, she was. She was so big her roots grew all the way through our world and came out the other side! Truth be told, there were many great trees in the realm, but this particular tree, the Rowan became my home and teacher and, eventually even my friend; though, too, she was my prison and warden, and finally in the end she became my savior as well.”

“Anyway one day when my friends and I were rowdily playing amongst the trees of the orchard, a fruit fight broke out.  My friends had very good aim, and many ripe berries broke open and spilled their contents on my head. After a while we all grew tired of the game and so I flew down to the sea’s edge to wash out the evidence, while the fruit was still wet in my hair.”

     A child giggled. “Gran, you can’t fly, you don’t have wings.”

     “Well, that’s’ true Fyn, I don’t have wings any longer, but I did have wings long ago.” Lillith smiled. Lillith could hear the young children whispering amongst themselves.

     “People don’t fly,” Fyn said sternly.

     “Well in a way you are right child, here in this world our people don’t fly. When your granddad and I first arrived here our wings were just shriveled bumps against our backs and we have never flown here, but there in that other land we did fly all the time. All the people of the Fey tribe flew. It was glorious to wing our way through the sky, playing with our friends. Back then, I never could have imagined that one day our tribe would lose its wings. Many times over the years I have felt it was a grave price we had to pay in order to save our race.”

     “Gran, were we fairies?”

     Lillith looked down at the child settled in her lap. “Why yes child, we were fairies and we still are fairies, though now we live here in this world without wings. All the people who will be born in this land are descendants of the Fey. It is our legacy. It is the last gift the great Rowan could give us, and it is why your granddad and I came to this land, to keep the tribe of Fey alive.”

     “Gran, tell the story please,” whispered Jesse.

     Lillith cleared her throat again. “As I was saying I flew down to the water’s edge and tried to wash off the berries, there at the edge of the sea of all time, but I found the berries had stained much of my hair a bright reddish-orange color and it would not wash out. Finally, I gave up in my struggle to rid my hair of its color, and then I hit upon the idea to at least make it
all
red. I hoped my parents might not be quite so mad if it all looked the same. So I flew back to the fruit bearing trees and rubbed as much berry juice into my hair as I could, hoping to hit as much of the previously unstained places as I could. Then I flew to the water again and rinsed away the fruit. From my reflection at the edge of the sea, I didn’t think it looked too bad. Though now, my face was framed by flaming red hair. In the distance I could see my friends playing amongst the great stone walls of the amphitheater, so I flew over to play with them and let my hair dry in the afternoon sun. It’s funny, isn’t it, how some moments stick with you forever? I still can remember that day as clearly as if it were only yesterday. I had my face turned towards the great stone wall; it was exactly like this wall here, though somewhat taller.  Anyway, there I was counting down while all my friends flitted away to hide themselves. I stayed like that for a little while, when suddenly, I realized there was an immense quiet, an unnatural quiet. That’s when I felt the hair at the nape of my neck prickle up. I remember taking a deep breath to steel myself against my fear as I turned my head to look over my shoulder. I screamed in fright.

“Gran what was it? A bogyman,” Jesse asked?

   “No child it was no bogyman. We didn’t have bogymen in the Realm. It was one of the ancient ones, standing in the clearing, right there behind me.

“What’s an ancient one, Gran,” Shel called out?

“Well they were trees and stones of our world. They were the eldest of the elders. Most were so old that even they couldn’t recall their age. The trees, a mix of oaks, and cedars, stood behind me and were so large they had nearly blocked out all of the sunlight, as their great hulking bodies moved slowly into the clearing. It took me a minute before my mind could make any sense of the scene, and then I relaxed and felt just plain silly for screaming. I had, you see, on several occasions been visited by the elders and brought to task over my behavior. They often referred to my friends and me as the holy terrors!  What I didn’t know then was that I had always been watched over in this way. For you see children, it was my fate to forever change the Realm. The ancients, of course knew only that their job was to protect our homeland from change.”

     April broke in, “Gran, if you knew you would change the world why didn’t you stop yourself?”

     Lillith smiled sadly at the child. “That is the worst part, no one can imagine that one small thing they do could ever change the world for the worse. It was only many years later, after I had been imprisoned for a long time that the elders understood their mistake, but by then it was much too late to undo the trouble.”

     “So there I was, my body pressed back against the thick stone wall, the ancient ones leaning in toward me, their looming bodies nearly blocking out all of the late afternoon light. Their features were aglow with fear and anger. Among the ancients I could make out ghosts of creatures so old they were known to me only as myths and legends. Even as I looked on them, I could scarcely believe these beings had ever lived in our world as real creatures, and above it all the small area of open sky was growing eerily dark. Great black clouds had begun to roll in. Bright flashes and rumblings could be seen and heard. That was when I grew really scared, for nothing like that had ever happened in our world. A crowd began to gather. I opened my wings to fly across the open ground to the safety of the people, but the oldest largest tree of the Cedar tribe rose up to its full length and stared down at me his eyes burning a fierce red as his voice so loud and deep commanded me not to move. I was literally struck still. My fear had become so great I could only sink to the ground and shake before all that were gathered there.”

     “I remember it all so clearly, as if it were only yesterday. How the grizzled old tree rose up, his voice cutting through the sky rumbling.” He said, “Lillith, the council and I have come to you many times, spoken with you many times over your unseemly behavior. We have watched over you all your lifetime hoping this day would never come, but come it has, and the council has no choice now but to condemn you child, as a traitor to the Realm. What do you have to say in your defense?”

   Lillith continued. “I was stunned as you can imagine. I couldn’t understand what was being said, and found it impossible to speak. I just laid there struck dumb listening to the trees muttering to one another. My fear however did eventually give way to anger and my natural forcefulness flared up and I used it to rise up and step forward, though I was trembling and could not have trusted my wings to carry me anywhere at that moment. I set my eyes on the foremost elder as I spoke. “Who has given this lie as truth? I am no traitor to the Realm!”

     “You girl, with those red locks,” his voice shrieked, as he pointed at me with his branched and gnarled hand. “You are your own accuser!”

     “I wanted to laugh about my red stained hair, but I could say nothing. I looked from face to face, but all of the elders’ faces were hardened against me. I remember the people of the tribes anxiously watching, for they clearly knew nothing more than I did about my being a traitor, even my young friend Briok’s face held a look of shock. Nothing like this had happened in our memories of the Realm. Thankfully, one of the ancients broke the charged silence.”

      A great friendly Willow pushed past the other elders and stepped into the clearing. “Lillith, long ago a council of all beings of the realm of time was called together. That council was charged to watch for any event that would change our world, particularly the birth of the one who would bring an end to our world. Nothing happened for many millennia but when you were born child, the stone people’s sage prophesized that you were, perhaps, that one.  The sage a traveler herself; had discovered a story of the end of our realm in a different timeline. It was the story of the red-haired one’s coming. Many of us had our doubts, for you are fair-haired, but now this has happened and it brings up again the story we were all told long ago. The duty of the ancient ones has always been clear, to watch for that child’s coming and prevent the end of our world, if it’s at all possible. None of us charged with this duty have ever forgotten that prediction:

BOOK: REALM'S END (BOOK OF FEY 1)
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