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Darkess and the Purple Mist
By Red Dobbs
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Red Dobbs
All right reserved.
PrefaceFor five hundred years, the planet has been dying. Even the oldest souls cannot remember the bounty and happiness the planet used to produce. Each season changes ever so slightly for the worse - dryer summers, colder winters, and damaging floods in the spring that tear at the soil and bury the seeds, rendering them useless. Early autumns bring smaller sized fruit in lesser numbers. Some of the oldest and more secluded tribes remember some of the old ways, and their crops are more abundant than most - but even they can hardly produce enough for every one to survive the winters that follow. The world doesn't know it is dying ... or that it has been waiting five hundred years for someone to save it. The magic wars have destroyed the planet, and the creatures that care for it are either dead or in hiding. It will take great magic to heal the planet. What has been secret for so long must finally be revealed. What every one most fears is their only salvation. Three corrupted eggs lay in wait, wanting again to be reunited. What will find them? They hold the key to life and death, but who could possibly wield them? Even the wisest of Elders keeps them at a distance, for in their presence lies, deceit, obsession, and madness. Magic has been hidden away for far too long. It needs to once again be in the open. The fears must be laid to rest. Will the humans accept the magic that can save the world? Or will they condemn it, allowing evil to finish off the world for good. Follow the girl with the flaming red hair to find out. She is the key.
Do you see that girl over there on the hillside? The one holding the single, long-stemmed red rose with tears streaming down her face. Her expression is almost blank. Her long flaming red hair is tied with a black ribbon, and her cloak has braided leather rope following the edges. Until three days ago, she was a happy young lady - excited all the time and always ready to learn something new. Now, all of that has changed. Her grandfather, the man who taught her almost everything, is gone, and she has no idea what to do next. She stares with a stony face at the casket covered in a blanket of white roses. A single tear escapes her eye, falling on the rose she has in her hand. Seeing it land, she looks closely at it. The light from the setting sun hits the tear and glistens like a shining star. But even life's simple pleasures fail to impress her today. As the eulogy continues, and friends and family say their peace to their beloved patriarch and leader, the girls face remains unchanged. She feels lost and empty, without a lamp to light her path. It wasn't always this way.
This isn't the beginning of the story, but rather nearer to the end. Perhaps the story should start earlier, much earlier, so that you will also feel the loss of the loved man in the casket. Then maybe you will know the loneliness of that broken hearted young girl. The man in the casket is Richard Vallencourt. And that young lady is his granddaughter Darkess of the House of Goodspeed of the Vallencourt Clan. To most of the world, they are wealthy landowners, almost royalty. Most considered them the stewards of the sick and the poor. To us, they are one of the most powerful of wizarding families that has ever lived in the land of Xyloidonia. But even this isn't the beginning.
When Richard was young and newly in love, he was courting the then young Angela - also from a wizarding family. She would later be known as Grandmother. They made a vow to each other. That vow was to teach their children all that they knew, but not necessarily about the craft. Why? Well, as we all know, some children aren't born with powers, which can cause great pain to the child. So, until their children showed any sign of magic, or interest, they would not tell the child the secret.
When they had their daughter Silver, they waited patiently for signs of her power, and it seemed like they were going to have to keep their secret from her until she was wise enough to handle it and not accidentally expose them. Maybe with age, she could understand why they were protecting the world from danger and why they were keeping the humans in the dark. Hopefully she would show signs of power and they wouldn't have to keep their secret forever. But they would cross that bridge when they came to it.
Silver looked remarkably like her father with soot black hair and shining blue eyes, but they couldn't be more different in personality. She was more like her mother, always making or fixing something. She loved her schooling, especially art and the museum. In her teenage years, Silver visited the Crystal City's Kings' Museum as often as she could. This is where she met a boy ... a human boy, which was a source of great tension with her father. Richard and Angela often had heated discussions about the pair, but Angela always won the battle, saying, "She is a girl and in love, what harm could it bring?"
One day Silver came home with an announcement that her beau was coming to the castle for dinner. Roxy, the family cook, who was also a witch, was delighted, as was Angela. However, the same could not be said for Richard. He had so wanted a magical child, and he was upset that she cared nothing for something he loved so much. Richard did agree to meet the boy, and to his dismay, he liked him. Daniel was his name, and he became a regular visitor to the castle. He took Silver to the museum where he worked as often as he could, and he spoke of the old country across the sea where he was from.
Daniel came from a wealthy human family, the House of Goodspeed, and he came here in search of treasures, art and adventure. He loved the different kinds of structures that were ordinary to the Xyloidonians. Daniel said that he had felt drawn to Crystal City. Daniel and Silver explored the city together, and after a year, Daniel asked Silver to marry him. Everyone was happy, but the secret was still a secret.
Daniel and Silver stayed blissfully ignorant of the family line and its powers, 'til one very odd day. Silver wanted some more salt, and the bottle moved into her hand. She dismissed it, thinking the steam from the food had caused her eyes to play a trick on her.
Then, later that afternoon, she said aloud, "I'm cold."
The logs in the fireplace shifted, and the blaze kicked up. Once again, she dismissed it, thinking that logs settle all the time and she went back to her reading. The clincher was when she grabbed for the pitcher of tea. Silver gasped, her body went rigid, and her eyes clouded over. Angela witnessed this.
"Are you alright?" Angela asked.
After a couple of seconds, Silver's eyes cleared, and she said, "The oddest thing just happened."
Angela waited for her daughter to get a grip on herself, and then she asked, "Well?"
Silver looked at her mother, and with a confused look, she said, "I saw myself holding a bottle of some sort of liquid. It was bright pink. And we were in a weird room of antiques that I have never seen before."
Angela grinned at her daughter, and asked, "Are you pregnant?"
Silver wrinkled her forehead, and replied, "I don't think so, why?"
"Has anything out of the ordinary happened to you lately?"
After a silent moment, Silver remembered the salt, the fire, and a couple of other things, and she said, "Come to think of it.... yes. What is happening to me?"
Angela's eyes were bright with excitement. She stood up and said, "Follow me."
Angela was bursting with excitement. It was finally time for a trip to the tower.
As with any castle, there are many passageways and secret hiding places, but this one had more than your ordinary one. At the end of the hall, on the second floor, there was a painting of this very castle, with a completely different landscape. Directly on either side of it were sconces. Angela smiled at her daughter, and pushed the left sconce up. Silver looked at her mother with confusion, until the painting moved back a few inches, and then slid into the wall off to the right. Surprise crossed Silver's face as she noticed there were two sets of stairs hidden behind the old painting. One led up and the other led down.
Silver looked down the stairs with curiosity as Angela led her daughter up the small stone steps to a short wooden door. Silver looked at the door, and she could see marks of age on it - spots where the color had changed from hundreds of years of hands touching its smooth surface. From her studies at the museum, she realized that this door was ancient, much older than the doors in the rest of the castle. This door had been hanging here for centuries, and was well used.
Angela reached for the door, but it swung open before she could reach it. Richard was standing on the other side, and upon seeing his daughter, he held out his hand in a welcoming gesture. "At last, my dear, at last." Richard said, as his wife and daughter entered the room.
There was a look of complete awe on Silver's face as she looked around the circular room she had seen in her vision only moments before, down in the library. There were things here from so many eras that it was essentially a museum in its own right. She looked around the room, and the first thing that caught her eye was a wooden chest. It was encrusted with ruby, amethyst, moonstone, and maybe lapis or some sort of blue stones. Behind the chest was a podium or altar, with a thick book lying on top. The walls behind the podium were lined with books of all sizes, shapes, and colors. The bindings to the books ranged from recent to antique. There were large cabinets and hutches, a shelf filled with candles, and still another filled with crystals. Knives, swords, and other unusual items were hung and laid around the room. Chairs and stools were scattered about, with one large table in the center at one end of the room. Hanging from the ceiling was the most spectacular iron chandelier with nine pointed spires, each with a huge crystal hanging from its tip. Silver imagined that she could spend weeks exploring this room and still see new things.
Several minutes of quiet were shared between the three family members before anything was said. Angela had her hands clasped in anticipation as she watched different expressions cross her daughter's face. Richard watched her closely, waiting for her reaction, with the corners of his mouth twitching. Finally, Silver looked at her parents and asked, "What is all of this? Family heirlooms?"
The corners of his mouth broke into a full smile, and Richard said with a twinkle in his eyes, "Well, yes and no."
Clearing his throat, he inhaled deeply. "Several hundred years ago, our family realized just how special we were. Some of us had the ability to see the future. Others could move things with their minds. One of us could hover above the ground, and some had the power to heal. A few could talk to animals, and even fewer could turn into them. There have been some with power over water, and some that could control or even produce fire. After some years, one of the more educated members of our family decided to invite all of the relatives that they could find and have a sort of census. The related lines were written down so each could be traced, along with their powers, or lack there of. There was some of the family with only the ability to make potions or fight with a sword or bow, but had no actual magical power at all. Each and every one added to the family line."
Richard took a seat as he talked, and his expression changed to one of pain, but he continued. "There were problems with some of these members, the powerless ones. They felt cheated, some even despised the members with power, and they stayed away from or even fought with them. This caused a great rift in the family, separating us. So ... when it became our turn to continue the family line, we made a decision to keep the magic a secret. We didn't want you to be in pain, or to hate us, possibly. And you would not be here today, had you not shown some sign of power ... for your own safety, of course."
The women took a seat as Richard took a drink and watched his daughter. Silver's expression was that of shocked awe and disbelief. Then Richard continued.
"My dear, what we are dealing with here in this room is that of the utmost importance. The knowledge in this room alone could cause mass chaos should the humans see what we do here."
Before he continued, he saw a look of horror cross his daughter's face, and he quickly explained himself. "Oh, dear, by that I mean the mortals. You see, what we do here is save the innocent and destroy the wicked. We protect what needs protection. Your ignorance was for your safety. I do hope that you can forgive us."
Silver sat, taking all of this in, when realization hit her. I'm either a witch, I'm pregnant with one, or am I hallucinating this whole thing, she thought. Angela grasped Silver's hand, and said,
"Love, we are here to help you during this confusing time, in ways that you may not believe."
Standing up, Angela crossed over to a cupboard, opened the front, and started to dig around inside. There were packets of herbs and bottles of liquid. Angela mumbled to herself as she dug through the cabinet. It had been quite some time since she had made this potion. Returning to the table she had a large and a small bottle along with some herbs. Angela poured some liquid from the large bottle into the small bottle, filling it only about half full. Then, pulling out a mortar and pestle, she ground the herbs up, making a fine powder. A fragrant smell filled the air when she added herbs to the liquid. Putting a small cork into the bottle, Angela shook the bottle until it turned a purple color. All the while Richard sat in silence, watching his wife in action. Then, he would check out his daughter's reaction to see how she was taking all of this. Angela looked at Silver with a look of sympathy and said,
"Hold out your hand, this may sting a little. I need some of your blood."
This time, Silver looked more horrified than she had before.
"My blood? What for?" she demanded.
Angela exhaled harshly. "In order for this potion to work, I need your blood for the last ingredient. This is our version of detecting pregnancy much earlier than the average mother."
Silver's hand was shaking when she held it out towards her mother. Her thoughts were racing. Her mother had never hurt her before, this can't be that bad. There was a tiny knife in Angela's palm, and she pricked Silver's finger quickly. Silver winced, but the pain was brief, until Angela squeezed out three fat drops of blood into the small bottle. Returning the cork to the bottle, she shook it vigorously for the time of sixty heartbeats.
"If the potion changes to black, there will be no baby. But, if it turns pink, then ... you, my dear, are having a baby."
Waiting for the color results, no one took a breath for a few seconds. The potion swirled in the bottle, with a life of its own. After what seemed to Silver to be an eternity, the potion started to brighten, and turn a bright shade of pink. Every one took a shaky breath and looked at each other.
"This changes everything. You are 19 years old, and you have never shown any signs or interest in magic. We have let you lead the life that you wanted. But now ... you will have to learn the way of a different world. For you, my dear, are going to bare a magical child who will need your guidance, as well as ours."
Silver was silent, soaking in all that she could, while at the same time thinking that this must be a dream. Her father continued to talk, and she did her best to catch all that he was throwing at her, and at a very fast pace indeed.
"We will teach you about all of the herbs, both magical and practical, and the powers that they hold. You will see and know the Vallencourt family line, and the powers they held. And you will be able to help your child with control of active power or powers, because while you are carrying, you will be able to use them from time to time. You will hear the stories of our ancestors, and you will add to them, as will your children. All that we have will be passed on to you, and the next generation of Vallencourts."
Richard patted his daughter on the back and returned to his tutelage.
"Come my dear, let us tell your husband the news. I can see that you are in a state of shock. So, let us keep this little secret for the night. Tonight, we celebrate. Tomorrow, we will talk more, for it is a deep subject, taking years to learn, and even longer to master."
Excerpted from Darkess and the Purple Mist by Red Dobbs Copyright © 2010 by Red Dobbs. Excerpted by permission.
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