January 4, 2013 4 Comments
The series finally has a name. At least a working name. I reserve the right to change it at some point in the future if I decide it doesn’t fit. For now, however, its called The Dark Calling. If you haven’t read the previous stories in this series, click here and read them before diving into this week’s flash fiction. Be sure to read them in the order they were published, starting from the bottom and working your way up.
The prompt for this week comes from the 500 Club. It’s appropriate both to the time of the year and to where this series is.
Write a scene about new beginnings.
I think I have some idea of where this story is headed now, though that only means I have a rough map. You can study a map until you’re blue in the face. You may know the route, but you can’t possible know the path. The turns. The smell of the woods as you walk past them. The feel of the soil under your feet. The unexpected complications, joys and hardships that will find you on the journey.
I think I know where Kenna is headed…but I’m not really sure what she’ll encounter on the way yet.
Mathers had studied Latin, of course. As a boy, his parents insisted that he attend the very best preparatory school. He’d graduated fourth among an impressive collection of peers, though his father was clearly disappointed that his rank had not been higher. Still, a classical education had its advantages. In his mid-forties, Mathers could still read Latin with surprising ease.
He’d consulted a lexicon. He’d looked up a few words and a couple of tricky phrases. He’d even spoken briefly to a local professor when he couldn’t discern the precise meaning of the opening line of the third incantation. However, the last line of the sixth, the final set in the series, he’d understood the first time he read it: Mors nihil nisi principium.
Death is nothing if not the beginning.
Those word found purchase in his fevered mind the first time he read them. A beginning. Something new, something fresh. His life had been a quest for vengeance for so long, and not even his own vengeance. No, he had his father and that damnable oath to thank for twenty years of hunting. The blood oath.
Nearly forgotten, the words of one of his clerical teachers came back to him: “Doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father?”
As he’d told himself countless times over two decades, what choice did he have? He could wait for Arawn to come for him, or he could act. He could go to Arawn. He could wield Arawn as a weapon, sending him to dethrone Odin, thereby releasing him from his father’s oath, or he could sit back and wait for Arawn’s hounds to find him.
As they’d found his father.
But death is a beginning. Odin’s death would he his. He could not reclaim the years he’d lost in this dark pursuit, but he could bring it to a swift end and finally have what had so long eluded him–freedom.
He began the last incantation, its words pouring from his lips with liquid ease. Soon he was speaking the last line, repeating it over and over. Mors nihil nisi principium. Mors nihil nisi principium. Mors nihil nisi principium.
His heart felt a lightness, then. It was hope–the dearest, most precious of things. Hope can lead a man to renewal or madness, depending on the outcome. Renewal was so close Mathers felt he could very nearly reach out and touch it.
He scooped the magpie up. All that was left was to open the window and release the bird. It would fly to Arawn, the binding around its beak falling off only when it was in his presence. It would speak for him, then, calling Arawn back. Calling him down. Calling the King of the Otherworld to come.
Still repeating the last line, Mathers crossed the room and opened the window. He spoke the line one last time, his voice sure and loud, and released the bird into the air.
Then he collapse, the last breath gone from his body before his head hit the floor. Death is nothing if not the beginning.