This post deserves a bit of a preface before we start.
In my senior year of undergrad, I got a prompt in my advanced creative writing workshop to write a 3-4 page story, with the catch being the action had to happen backwards. I decided to write about the origin story behind two of my most unique characters in Treomynd. You’ll get to know them pretty well over the next few weeks. I loved the story so much that I’ve tweaked it as I’ve become a better writer, and I couldn’t resist putting it on the blog. I say this because things might seem out of context, or the voice might not sound the same as the rest of my posts. The time frame for this post is definitely “Before the Island,” as in before Barnama and his late wife Eeva were even born. You’re going to get a look at how the storm started to brew years before Christopher and Aurora discovered MoonStone, and also a sneak peak at the culmination of the eternal fight between light and darkness. Enjoy!
“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “The risk is too great.” A young woman rose from a thicket deep in the forest. She turned and began her journey back home, leaving behind her two newborn sons, sound asleep.
Some hours later, one of the sons awoke and began to cry for food. A brown bear passed by with a small family of cubs, and heard the baby’s pleas. She followed the sounds to the thicket, and poked her head through the leaves to discover the twins. One was still asleep, while the other cried and thrashed his limbs. The brown bear’s maternal instincts came alive, and she took the crying boy by his wrappings and walked away, her cubs trailing behind in curiosity.
The other son remained quiet until nightfall, when he also woke out of hunger. No animal bothered to go near the thicket, and ran away when they heard his calls. He continued for several hours, until his cries were little whispers in the abyss of the forest. In the dead of night, a black puma slunk up to the newborn. She peered through the leaves, and discovered the baby on the brink of starvation. Having lost her own cubs to hunters, the puma immediately felt love for the child, and took him up in her mouth like her own cub. She glided away through the trees, leaving the forest in its dark silence once more.
The English forest churned with thunder and lightning. Leaves rustled with the wind as it made tree branches moan in agony. Magonna’s screams could barely be heard over the storm as she labored to give birth. No one knew that she fled to deal with her labor pains alone. She didn’t want anyone to know it was time, not until she knew what to do. She soon gave birth not to one, but two boys. Her worst fear was realized. All she could do was lie in the thicket with her sons as they wailed for their mother. She stared blankly at the sky until early morning, when the storm let up and the sun rose. Slowly, she sat up and tore part of her skirt to swaddle them. She fed them and lulled them to sleep, and laid them down side by side. What were her options? She reached out to hold one of them, but she shrank away and folded her arms. After several minutes of contemplation, she finally came to a conclusion. It was a long way home, so she rose to her feet and began to walk back with her head in her hands.
“It is for the best,” she told herself. What else could she do? In such a short amount of time, she went from an expectant, terrified mother, to…to what? A deserter of her own children? Yesterday seemed so far away now.
“They are up and fighting today,” said Magonna as she rubbed her swollen belly. “I can hardly have a moment’s peace.”
“You are only having one child,” said her husband. “It simply means the child is strong.”
“It’s more than just strength,” she thought to herself. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” She tried to change sitting positions when she felt a stabbing pain in her stomach. “It’s time,” she thought. She got up and told her husband she would take a walk before the next wave of pain. Once outside of their house, Magonna frantically looked around for options. “If anyone knew your secret, you would be labeled an outcast.” The forest looked like the only option, so she ran though the trees as best she could until the pain was too much. She considered going back to the village to find a midwife, but she reminded herself why no one must know.
“Remember what the soothsayer told you,” she said to herself. The memory of that terrible day came back to her while she doubled over in pain.
“You wish to know the meaning of your dreams, do you not?” The soothsayer Aldwen cooed. Magonna had snuck into her hut for a visit. “Please, sit down.” She gestured toward a stool next to her own chair. The expectant mother sat down uneasily.
“Yes,” said Magonna. “From the first night I discovered I was pregnant, I have had these vivid nightmares, each ending worse than the last. I just want to know if they mean something.”
“Let me see your palms.” Magonna held out her hands with her fingers spread wide. Aldwen examined them for several minutes, until her head snapped up to meet Moganna’s eyes. “You have twin boys inside of you.”
“Twins? I have twins? What’s wrong with them?”
“They are not ordinary twins. The nightmares you see are not simply dreams; they are visions. Visions of what is to come. They have extraordinary destinies ahead of them. One of them will become a great guardian of goodness and life. But the other will be a master of darkness, jealous of his brother until the time comes when he will attempt to wipe out an entire population sacred to the forest, and his own brother in the process. They are already fighting within you. Such strong magic is at work.” Magonna’s hands shrank back to her lap.
“Then there must be some way to stop it.” Aldwen shook her head.
“You don’t understand. I said there is strong magic at work in your children, and that is the magic of fate. It is far beyond human comprehension. What I told you is meant to happen, for better or worse. You can kill them when they are born, but fate has a way of outsmarting death. I have sensed a great shift coming to this forest, and your sons will be one of the culprits. I have never felt such strength in unborn children.”
Magonna was so dumbfounded that she didn’t notice the soothsayer close her eyes and reach out to touch her belly. The moment they made contact was like a bolt of lightning hurtling through the room. But when Magonna looked up, she wasn’t in a hut anymore.
She stood in a strange land, possibly an island, and watched hundreds of black forms in the shape of horses fly over green grass at breakneck speed to get away from something. They seemed to be running from the shadowy shape of a man that stood completely motionless on one side of the island. Magonna looked away from the figure and saw another shadow man about the same size on the other side. They stared at each other for what seemed like ages, until they suddenly took off toward one another, flying above the grass. One man turned into what seemed like the shadow of a bear, while the other transformed into the sleek form of a puma. They began to fight each other viciously; all while black shapeless forms descended on the island and began to terrorize the horse-like inhabitants.
“Stop! Stop it I tell you! Why must you fight?” Magonna shouted until her voice was hoarse, but it was all in vain. The fighting grew worse and worse, until a bright light shot through the island and all of the forms disintegrated into nothingness.
Magonna broke from her vision, and realized she was back at Aldwen’s hut. But it wasn’t over yet. For the first time she heard two male voices speak simultaneously, and she knew in her heart that it was the two black forms that fought to the death.
“We are your sons,” they said. “We cannot stop our own destiny.”