a short story by AD Bane
The ocean breeze takes her hair and draws it out like the strands of time itself, lingering on the air. Scent of salt, clean and fresh: it takes her back to a time now gone, a time before the setting of the sun, before the ocean’s wicked lash upon the shore, and long before the pillages bringing ever war. The stony crag on which she stands: her shadow’s cast against the dark; and there she waits, stave in hand. What might transpire across the crests, and there to break upon the shore? Wait it not; she does not tell, nor ship nor sail fair her well. Though eyes strain against the wind, and golden light reflects her might, still none there are to greet her wait, and lonely as a granite stone she lingers on that barren shore.
The pass of night: rain falls like fire on the ground, and with such a might as the fierce sea herself can unleash to bring to light a new day. And with the rise of dawn once more, a shadow is laid forth upon the beach. There she sits upon the stone, huddled against the chill, cloak about a thin, tender body that offers little resistance to the tempest. But she seems undaunted as once more she looks out to the sea from beneath the shadows of her eyes. The wind on her face, the salt on her tongue – and yet the day is young. And still there is no dark shadow on the horizon to announce that they have come. How long must she wait? Not another day more, for here on the northern shore has the land been whored away by the furtive mongerings of king and emperor – nevermore.
On another night the clouds have passed, the stars are marred, and the moon is dimmed to tell its tale no more. Beneath the canopy of darkness she lies await beneath the safety of her cloak, her eyes on the horizon and her ear to the wind, seeming as though she does not sleep, does not close an eye for want to greet them when they come. Forty years gone hence and ravage of monstrosity by terror; and still they have not come. Forty years on a desolate shore – await no more.
Light depicts a distant horizon. Low in the south, it is no light of day, nor machine of war, as is want to come upon her shore. Hair and cloak betrayed by the wind, she strains to see this glow of hope. She can feel the sand, the cool of the rock. Supported by the gnarled length of stave, she plods a path towards the shallows. Closer and closer: the waves at her feet, the salt on her mouth. Not far now. A far cry across the water, the voice of some wave-wary traveler, “Cry dawn of a new day!” it calls, hoarse with the wind and the spray of the sea. “Come to me clouds. Oh! For dry land once more!” And with its song the light approaches, alighting on that shore just beyond the crest of the waves. Long, black, feathered, it burns. Toward it they make their way until, with grind of prow and hull, the vessel has come to rest upon the sand. From it they land, warriors strong, men of light, of heart, of might, with weary steps from treading the murky depths, by strength to fight. Deliverance for a plagued land: light in the darkness. Her face is cast, radiating the warm glow of the arrow in the sand. She greets them with hearty words and gentle bows. The ringlet upon her wrist with the meeting of hand to hand tells her tale, and the old, bent stave upon which she rests fills in the missing pieces. Alas, she throws back a hooded face and they gaze upon her, glad of her presence – but none so much as she: joy in her heart, tears in her eyes. To them that answer the call shall be great reward such as a mistress can give. But for now all victory is laid aside. First a battle must be won.
She draws the hood once more over her complexion, hiding herself amidst the shadow. Wind in her hair, salt on her lips, her cloak blown about her feet: she stands upon the shore looking out to sea.
This work is written by AD Bane and published by adbane.com. It is solely the property of ADBane.com and may not be reproduced in part or in whole for any reason except at the exclusive permission of the author. © 2011 ADBane.com