Phenelope unearthed her grandmother’s grave just before summer faded into fall. Just as it had been foretold. But time was slipping away. Phenelope turned to Tanta and shouted.
“Take my daughter and run to the caves!”
As Tanta darted away, cradling the baby, Phenelope looked across the ancestral field through the rising mounds of soil. The other villagers were unearthing their fallen kin as quickly as they could. But she saw the fear in their eyes.
“This is the only way,” she called out, “The prophecy is clear, ‘when the red dawn is brightest but the skies never darker.’”
Phenelope was the Light-Seer now. The Seers weren’t conjurers. They knew no spells. It was only through the recognition and manipulation of the sky anomalies, rare and powerful events, that they could effect the world. It had been many years since any Seer had harnessed the sky.
The prophecy called for a horrible, dark wind to blow after the great summer harvest, when the sun light turned red, just before fall. None of the villagers were alive the last time a dark wind happened. But they all understood the higher law – for every great blessing there must be an equal reckoning. This harvest had been the greatest of all.
“These winds cannot be repelled by the living or the dead alone. The power of the light is our only hope!” Phenelope cried out. “Look for yourself.” She pointed upwards. Clouds had begun to gather in menacing shapes, like great armies of mist, unlike anything the villagers had ever seen. The light from the sun began to filter through the dark shifting clouds, emerging with a blood red tint.
“We can wait no longer!” She called. “They must see the light. Now!”
Phenelope lifted her grandmother’s body from the shallow grave. Her grandmother was the last Light-Seer to have fought the dark winds. She was about Phenelope’s age when she had passed. Phenelope quickly removed the white burial cloth. All that was left was bones, a red tunic, and the translucent Focus Stone that hung from her grandmother’s neck. Phenelope unloosed the stone, held it high, and chanted the inscribed words. The beams of crimson that shone through the tormenting clouds began to channel through the stone.
And then the bodies started to rise. Slowly and steadily. As the light dispersed through the stone and across the field, the fallen kin were standing once more. Some of the villagers cried at the sight. The red light held a power none of them could fathom, a power that raised their kin’s bodies to neither living nor dead but a temporary and gruesome force of nature. It was a force that absorbed and pulsed with the crimson glow. A force that had learned from the last great battle. It was a force that was ready to fight.
In the sky, the dark clouds enveloped the sun. The clouds had formed into grotesque shapes of creatures and beasts and riders. They rushed down on mighty gusts that shook the ancestral field. They were cruel and fierce. They swirled everywhere, pulling down trees and ripping the roofs from the cottages. The darkness thickened. The battle had begun. And through it all, through the furious winds and harrowing shrieks, Phenelope stood with the stone raised in the center of her raging ancestral army, just as her grandmother had years before.
When the battle was over, the villagers had survived. As the prophecy had foretold. But it would take years to rebuild their village. Yet the harvest had been rich and they had just enough land to begin replanting. And for all the damage and morbid horror, they had lost only one of their living.
When they buried Phenelope, they dressed her in a red tunic with the Focus Stone hanging from her neck. She was wrapped in a white burial cloth. As they slowly laid her in the shallow grave, the elders sang their dirges. Tanta cradled Phenelope’s daughter and whispered gently, “I will teach you of your mother’s courage and how we must be both thankful and sorry she is gone. You must learn her ways little one, you must learn the power of the sun and sky. For you are the Light-Seer now.”
Brian is fairly new to the fiction writing game. He was previously an advertising copywriter. Although some might argue that was fiction writing. Now he spends his time attempting to be a 14 year old boy again. All signs are trending positive in that endeavor.