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In the Shadow of the Tower

Title: In the Shadow of the Tower
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Drama, Supernatural

Written for the October ALEC challenge "Things That Go Bump In The Night"



ALEC Oct 2010


My death was agony beyond imagining, yet it was only the beginning.

Wounds to the spirit may be worse than any physical pain visited on the body. The pain I endured in life was acute but transitory, the worst being the moment my fae and rhaw were forcibly sundered. Both survived, after a fashion, but while the twisted, corrupted mass of animate flesh that was my rhaw is long since become dust my fae continues, bound to the world until the ending of it.

Why did I not answer the call? For me it never came. I suppose it has not come for any of us unfortunates whose bodies were stolen and altered through torture, transmogrification, and evil sorcery into creatures too grotesque to articulate. I do not know why Námo has turned from us, from me, but to be an eternal watcher, helpless to participate in or control events is torment beyond expression.

When my fae escaped the tower of the Necromancer I made my way back to my home. For years I lingered close to my former talan but my family and friends slowly drifted away, moving to other areas and eventually far to the north, or so I gathered from their frightened whispers as they journeyed through my part of the forest. I called out to them but they looked over their shoulders in alarm and hastened away as though they could hear or sense me. I tried to follow, but after a few steps I found myself back in the same place I’d started. Since then I have been alone, watching the forest grow ever darker, feeling the influence of the tower spread throughout the wood.

Have I desired a rhaw? Of course I have. There have been times I would have done anything, even returned to the tower as the Necromancer’s slave, if only I could feel again, belong again. I never acted on the impulse, for the circumstances of my demise were such I could never visit that suffering on another. Yet the need is strong, and at this time of year when the separation of worlds is thin temptation is a constant, bitter ache.

As the midnight hour approaches I see an Elf making his way through the trees, approaching where I stand. He is tall and broad shouldered, his golden hair shining in the moonlight, his stride sure and strong. A sense of indescribable longing washes over me at the thought of inhabiting a rhaw such as this. It would be easy to take him unawares, force my way in at the very moment of midnight when resistance would be nearly impossible.

When he comes within twenty paces of me he slows as though sensing my presence. He stops and looks around. The wind ripples through the trees sending a scatter of dead leaves over the forest floor. Up in the branches an owl takes wing, flapping toward the full moon.

“I know you are here,” he says.

I try to answer but not even a whisper issues forth.

“You are houseless but not by your choosing,” he continues.

‘Yes!’ I think. ‘How does he know?’

“Follow me,” he says.

He turns and walks away. I follow.

He leads me through the forest toward the tower. I halt. When I escaped I vowed I would never return.

“Do not be afraid,” he says. “Follow. I have something to show you.”

Why I follow I do not know but his voice carries command and I cannot disobey. Terror whispers to me at the thought I might be trapped again, that the dark sorcery that took everything from me might turn my spirit to the darkness I once escaped and have shunned since at such great cost.

We break from the treeline, where the forest gives way to the hill upon which the tower stands. Had I breath I would gasp at the sight, for the tower is there no longer.

“Why did you not answer the call?” he asks.

‘There was no call,’ I cannot speak it but he nods as though he has heard. He closes his eyes. His brow furrows in concentration.

And then I hear it, a lordly voice calling my name. It carries a command but there is understanding too, and pity.

He opens his eyes and smiles.

“Yes, I feel it,” he says to the empty air. “The spell is broken.” He looks at me. “The Necromancer has been destroyed and now you can hear the call. Answer it and you will find peace in Námo’s halls.”

“But how is it I did not hear it before?” I am startled at the sound of my own voice.

“The spell he used to separate you from your hröa has kept you locked within yourself to the point you could see nothing outside. The tower was thrown down many years ago, yet you did not know it. It was only when Námo realized this that he sent me to seek for you and others who have been held captive by the Necromancer’s dark magic. Look beyond yourself and your pain and you will be free to answer the call, if answer you will.”

I look and see that everything once denied to me is now before me. I feel the pain lift like fog from my unencumbered spirit.

“Yes, I am ready,” I say. “I will answer. But how will I find my way?”

“I will show you,” he says. He beckons to me and we walk together, the dark forest dissolving into light around us.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 4th, 2010 02:09 am (UTC)
This is thoroughly enjoyable! From the sense of being trapped, and yet not, to the freedom from the dark magic, the descriptions are vivid.

Very nice job!
Dec. 4th, 2010 08:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks Aearwen, I appreciate your comments. I wondered what might have happened to houseless elves that were not corrupted and decided they needed a happy ending too. I'm glad you enjoyed this one.
Dec. 4th, 2010 04:43 am (UTC)
"Look beyond yourself and your pain and you will be free to answer the call, if answer you will.”

The whole thing is moving, indeed... but that one jumped out and punched me in the face. Well done, sir, very well done. :)

~ L
Dec. 4th, 2010 08:54 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! The thing that's saddest, to me, about ghosts is their inability to move on. I thought it would make a nice theme for Halloween.
Dec. 5th, 2010 04:46 am (UTC)
You definitely nailed it, man... I was pained for the poor bastard, to be sure. :) I like those kinds of ghost stories, too; it's so tragically human.

~ L
Dec. 4th, 2010 07:34 am (UTC)
I was deeply moved by this excellent piece, so full of emotions expressed clearly but without excesses. Beatifully told as well - I enjoy picking up new words and phrases :)
Dec. 4th, 2010 08:55 pm (UTC)
Thanks Malinorne. It was a moving story to write as well. I'm glad to know that emotion comes through.
Dec. 4th, 2010 11:48 am (UTC)
That is so vivid and so raw. Striking descriptions of ghostliness; and I'm glad he found his way to Namo's halls in the end! Thank you!
Dec. 4th, 2010 08:57 pm (UTC)
That's such a great compliment, Clodia, thank you so much. I always like a theme of redemption and hope, even in a ghost story.
Dec. 4th, 2010 08:55 pm (UTC)
Very beautiful! Applause!
Dec. 4th, 2010 08:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks Aislynn. This was my first try at writing a story for the ALEC challenge. I'm glad it turned out well and I appreciate your comments.
Dec. 5th, 2010 12:26 am (UTC)
What a nicely done ghost story! I really enjoyed it!
*adds to memories*
Did you have any particular person in mind for either character?
Dec. 5th, 2010 05:51 am (UTC)
Thanks Drummerwench. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I didn't have anyone in particular in mind for the dead Elf but I pictured it being Irmo who came to fetch him.
Dec. 5th, 2010 12:31 am (UTC)
Oooh, it made me shiver. Beautiful, in a sort of creepy way. Very enjoyable!
Dec. 5th, 2010 05:52 am (UTC)
Thanks Russandol. I wanted it to be creepy but wasn't sure how well that came across. I appreciate your comments.
Dec. 5th, 2010 08:33 am (UTC)
Now this is a new and interesting angle! The Necromancer preventing his victims from hearing the call - that is cruel, so very cruel. To be trapped like that for ages... horrid.

I'm glad you sent someone to the rescue of the houseless ones.
Dec. 5th, 2010 05:02 pm (UTC)
I was reading about the houseless being corrupt because they refused the call, so I wondered what if they didn't refuse it and what if they chose to remain good souls despite the horrendous circumstances of their deaths. I'm glad you enjoyed my take on the theme, Lissa. Thanks for your comments. :-)
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )