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This was the only thing that survived our 2001 move in which was lost:. All the world building notes and drafts of scenes, maps, floor plans, calendars, roster, character sketches, glossary, timeline, solar system charts. This was all paper files as it was a decade before my first word processor and only the scene drafts that had reached a significantly polished state were ever typed.
Trilogy Title: The Ward's Prevailing
Book I The Wailing Womb
Chapter 1. The Mourning Mother
by Joy Renee
Book I The Wailing Womb
Chapter 1. The Mourning Mother
by Joy Renee
Warm is his body and alive. Secure in my arms, next to my heart. My son. Soft and supple his skin, deep and dazzling his eyes. Blue eyes that gaze into mine. Soul to soul a bond of love is forged. Stronger than the strongest steel. More enduring than diamonds.
To hold him, to touch him, to kiss his rosy cheeks, to caress the smooth skin, to lay my finger gently on his throat and feel the pulsing of his tiny veins and know that life is in him and that life from me. Passionately possessive I feel, ferociously protective. No harm shall come to him. I will prevent it with my life.
He is mine and only mine, I think, and yet know that he is his own and the Womb’s above all. And sooner than I wish he will break free into the private world of his own soul. He will assert his independence, leave my arms empty and yearning once more, declaring his dominion over the earth as all men have since the Advent. But for now he belongs only to me and the union of our souls is more passionate, more galvanic than that between a man and a woman, more profound than that between a soul and its Augmentor.
Mourna awoke. Tears washed out from beneath her lashes as she blinked her eyes open. Dreaming again. Such strange dreams. Thoughts so foreign to her that even the images and words used to form them had a strange feel to her as the dregs of the dream floated in her mind. Augmentor. She formed the strange word silently with her tongue. The word did not belong to her. But she still felt the emotion it conjured up. Awe and utter trust. And beneath that was the straining of energies harnessed and directed….
The images were fading. She could never hang onto them for more than the moments it took her to come fully awake. All that was left was the feel of an infant’s supple skin and blue eyes gazing into hers. And with these a feeling of desolation washed over her. She came fully awake then, crying out, “My baby. Oh my son, I want my son.”
And with the sound of her own cry she remembered, and knew she would never see him again. A wave of desolation inundated her. Even now Jamyl could be dead. But no, somehow Mourna was sure that she would know when Jamyl no longer lived. There was a bond between them, indefinable but indestructible. It had been there almost from the moment she became aware that life was growing within her. Jamyl had been torn from her arms, had been banished from the Body. But only death could truly separate them.
That death would come soon for Jamyl. A matter of hours. And with his death total desolation of soul for Mourna. Her soul wailed within her and instinctively she put her hands to her belly where so recently he had lain curled. A slight swelling still remained to testify to the truth of his existence. There was an ache in her womb and an emptiness. She felt the emptiness consuming her. Could she survive the death of Jamyl? Did she want to? NO! the answer screamed within her heart like the cold winds of the Season of the Far Suns. She must hold her son in her arms again or die! With that thought she sprang to a sitting position on her sleep-couch, every muscle tense, every sense alert. She must rescue Jamyl!
Why had she not thought of it before? Of course it meant defying the Body, but what more could they do to her? They had already banished her to the colonies of the Woeful. But what if she had to contend with the Defenders of the Body, that elite corp of guardsmen who would be guarding the Cairn of the Corrupt. They would stand guard until the Suns went down on the night of the Rain of Rocks. But there would be time, after they took shelter within the Body, to rescue Jamyl and find a place to wait out the Rain. She had the advantage of knowing the territory. She had done much forbidden exploring. It had never occurred to her to wonder how she had gotten away with that or even why she had had the urge to explore. None of her peers had ever displayed an interest in seeing anything beyond the confines of the Body.
With hope in her heart for the first time since that awful moment when they took Jamyl from her, she arose from her couch. Pulling her long fur-lined cloak around her shoulders she peeked though the flap of her tent door. She could see none of Zircon’s four moons from where she stood but there wasn’t enough expanse of sky in her line of sight for her to tell what time of night it was. She would feign sleeplessness and go out and talk to the Defender who stood guard at the camp’s fire.
She was about to open the flap when a tugging on her arm brought her attention to her pet Purryl. La’Zurra chattered agitatedly and commenced an acrobatic dance about the ten, finally coming to a stop on Mourna’s shoulder.
“Oh, so you wanted to come along and thought I had forgotten you, eh?” She scooped La’Zurra up and gazed into her multifaceted eyes. They whirled and seemed to spark, glowing an intense blue. Mourna had come to know the Purryl’s emotions by the color of it’s eyes. This blue meant happiness, excitement, hope.
‘It’s as if you know what I am thinking La’Zurra.: she whispered in her companion’s tiny ear. “I wonder do you think I’m mad to be considering such a thing? The Rain of Rocks is at dawn the next after this which leaves me only one Dur to retrace the steps I took in two. But I will think of something. I must! Shall we go out and keep the Defender company for awhile?
The night air was chill, a harbinger of the Season of the Far Suns which was nigh upon them. Earlier she had fancied she could see the two suns shrinking as they traversed between the horizons of Dawn and Dusk. With a shiver she pulled her hood up to envelope her face and with La’Zurra riding on her shoulder she headed for the cooking fires where the watchman would be keeping himself warm.
The light of Adze, the largest of the four moons, shed a ghastly red glow over the land like that of a conflagration. The huge red globe hung suspended from the sky, haloed by the pearly colors of Zircon’s ring. ‘The arm of the Lord’ it was sometimes called, and ‘The Anger of the Lord’ and ‘The Eye of the Lord’. There were many tales to go with the many names and Mourna had always been fascinated by them but remembered the bard Khor’ol who had come with the merchants and supplicants at the beginning of the fertile season. He had been full of such tales and hinted at many more. She wished she could have listened some more but Mal’ys had said ‘Enough!’ he was irked by Khor’ol’s effrontery in bringing Purryls with his act. It was well known that Mal’ys had no affection for the little creatures. But whether he held them in disdain or disgust was debated. He strongly discouraged their presence in the Body. But even he, the Head, could not forbid it. It was said that any who harmed or intended harm to one whom a Purryl had attached itself to, would suffer similar fate.
Mourna had admired Khor’ol greatly. He had seemed to be speaking directly to her the whole time, as if he had been saying to her ‘We will not be strangers.’ she was mesmerized by his presence, entranced by the sound of his voice. She allows her memory to transport her back…back to that day so many Durs ago…
His costume is a voluminous robe shimmering with all the colors of the Ring. He sits on a pillow with his harp in his hand. His slender fingers move across the strings. The music he weaves with them swirls about him like a thing of substance. The Purryls form a circle around him. They begin to dance and to perform graceful acrobatics that seem to be both choreographed and spontaneous at once. He begins to speak. His voice, a resonant baritone, is controlled. The words are carefully chosen. The words, the voice, the dance of the Purryl, and the music, combine and become one entity--the story. Then a wondrous thing happens. The shimmering colors on the robe coalesce, become a moving picture which acts out the story.
It is the story of the Advent. Of a time before the Body. Of a time when there was only one, long hot season. There was no fertile seasons or seasons of the far suns, no Rain of Rocks and no Ring.
A light appears in the night sky. A second light split off from the first. It seemed to fall out of the sky and disappear behind Mount Womb. Then everything was still, as before, except for the new light in the sky. A shimmering blue light, very much like the light of Laz. Why, that’s exactly what it was! Laz, the smallest and nearest of Zircon’s four moons.
As dawn lit up the horizon, two figures were revealed on the peak of Mount Womb. A man with star-white hair wearing a robe of red. Eyes of the same color as his robe shone like flame. His gaze was searing, passionate. He held the hand of a woman with ember-hued hair flowing long to her waist. She wore a robe of blue the color of her eyes. The blue of scintillating, sunlight-shimmer on deep waters.
They stood there, never moving, their faces towards the rising suns. As the red sun’s circle first peeked over the horizon they began to raise their arms over their heads, still holding hands. The light of their eyes pulsed in rhythm with their synchronized heartbeats. Two bodies, two minds, one purpose.
With that image held in her mind Mourna found her own purpose to rescue her son enhanced. And infused with a sense of power that evaporated the despair which had engulfed her since the moment they took Jamyl from her arms, she strode toward the Defender.
As soon as she stepped out from the protective embrace of the shadows among the tents, he swung his gaze towards her calling “Who’s about?”
“It is I, Mourna.” she called.
“It is late, Lady.” he admonished.
“That I know, sir. Sleep has departed from me this night.”
“We break camp at dawn. We must be sheltered by the First Watch of Laz next Dark.”
“Lord and Lady be willing.” she said.
“May they be.” he made the formula response, touching first his forehead then his chest. “For Head and Body’s sake.”
“Sad you must be to separate from your young one and her mother for this long season upon us.” she attempted to commiserate with him, but he stiffened his shoulders and looked pointedly over her head.
“The Body must be served.” he intoned.
“So it is said.” she heaved a huge sigh and reached up to caress La’Zurra who nestled contentedly against her neck.
“And so it must be.” the Defender completed the homely. “Lady, to resist the Body’s decree is unseemly. It can only lead to woe.”
She knew he referred now to her. It had been no secret within the Body that she had resisted the banishment of Jamyl. She had made no quiet protest. Her wailing and accompanying imprecations had resounded throughout the stone halls and chambers. No other Member of the Body could have acted so and expected to remain in the Body; for such behavior must issue from insanity and thus be cause for banishment to the Colony of the Woeful at the very least.
But Lady Maerfaum had at first received only mild reprimands and importuning from Mal’ys, until she dyed her white lock black and proclaimed her name no longer to be Maerfaum but Mourna--for she would never cease mourning for her son. Then, as Head of the Body, Mal’ys could no longer protect even the favorite of his son, Jharmyn naMal’ys, from the implacable Will of the Body. Even so he declared her banishment to be for one season only. If she showed herself to have repossessed her senses after the passage of time, she would be welcomed back into the Body.
Never in the Memory of the Body had such an exception been made. But never in the Memory of the Body had there been such a one as Maerfaum. With her bright eyes colored like sea mist shimmering in dawn light, with that white lock sweeping back from the center of her forehead that seemed to glow with an inner fire whenever light fell upon it, she was set apart from the Body whose members were uniformly black-haired and dark-eyed. Set apart also by her nature that swung to extremes like the very sea, Maer herself, among a Membership complacent and calm and predictable, she had early on received uncommon treatment from the Body. Nobody had thought to question it, nobody had thought to resent it, for the Head had Decreed it and the Head always knew the needs of the Body.
Seeking to draw the Defender into further exchanges, Mourna chose to ignore the allusions to herself in his words and instead, with an impish tone asked: “What then did you defy that you are banished to the Woeful?”
“Lady,” he said, his widened eyes the only sign of his alarm at her insinuation. “It is not banished I am. It is honored. As it was I who found you when I was yet but a Marsh-reaper, and presented you to the Head and Body, it is fitting that I take charge of your defense for the duration of your banishment.
“Found?” she whispered on an in-taken breath. “Was I not born of the Body as any other Member?”
The Defender froze in place, dismay dilating his eyes. Time stretched taut in the silence. “Forgive me Lady. I have forgotten my place.”
“You must answer sir. It unbecomes you to hide behind custom”
“I have said more than is proper.” his voice tightened on words gripped in a fist of formality.
Mourna felt his refusal as a blow. Her mind reeled, straining the bonds that moored her to sanity. La’Zurra chirped in her ear and she turned to gaze into the red maelstrom of the Purryls eyes and found her panic focused into a fiery crystal of anger that rapidly bifurcated as it enlarged to fill her mind. She turned her eyes upon the Defender and said “Tell me.” It was a command.
As his eyes met hers the crystal shattered and in its place was the answer she had sought. His memories, forced from him, assaulted her mind with a kaleidoscope of images, sounds, thoughts, all suffused with the volatile emotions of a boy on the verge of manhood. She whirled away from him and ran, uncaring where she went. He made no move to stop her. He made no move at all except a slow blinking of his eyes.
She ran heedlessly, blinded by a viscous fog of moiling emotions. If she was not of the Body, then who was she? Where had she come from? Where did she belong? She felt cut adrift as on a raft upon the Maer, far from the sight of land and buffeted by wind driven waves and rain, she crested a rise of land, a grass covered dune, and sighted the sea. Maer--oft-times home to her weary or troubled spirit. In a daze of despair Mourna unfastened her cape and let it drop to the ground unmindful of La’Zurra who chattered franticly from her refuge in the hood. The Purryl tumbled to the ground with a screech of protest that failed to penetrate the miasma of memories and emotions that possessed her mistress.
Mourna, having zeroed in on that one seemingly coherent thought, ran for the safety of the sea. She splashed through the surf until the waves tugged at her thighs and then dove into the breakers. She swam with a fury of futility until weariness weighted her arms and legs then rolled to her back and floated. The light of the stars, the moons, and the Ring laved the surface of the water and she imagined she felt their gentle caress upon her face. She allowed herself to be soothed by their aleatoric beauty, letting the colors fill her mind replacing the chaos of alien thoughts.
The filmy white cloth of the j‘mah, animated by the water, caressed her body.
(Glossary: j'mah is a loose-fitting one piece suit gathered at wrist and ankle by bands and at the waist by a girdle) This was the only Glossary entry that survived the loss of the file of notes and drafts because I had typed it directly into the manuscript.