Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Snippets 24

If you missed part one or need a refresher see last week's snippet.

This snippet takes off after Mourna determines to rescue her newborn son, Jamyl, who had been torn from her arms and deposited in the Cairn of the Corrupt. But first she must escape from the Defender of the Body who is escorting her and other exiles to the Colonies of the Woeful.

The Wailing Womb

I. The Mourning Mother

by Joy Renee


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.

4 tell me a story:

IanT 12/21/2007 7:14 AM  

A colourful and strange world. :-)

Just a quick note - although this is probably an old piece you're unlikely to revisit, I guess. There's an odd tense-shift about two-thirds of the way through. I can understand it for the memory, but I think it should probably be 'allowed her memory to transport her back' rather than allows (i.e. it shifts a line too early).

And then another odd tense-shift back towards the end, the paragraph starting 'as dawn'.

Anyhow - thanks for sharing the strangeness of it all. :-)

Have a good holiday.

Bri 12/21/2007 9:53 AM  

Agree with Ian about the tense shift. Otherwise, I love the culture you've created in such a short time in this piece. Are you going to continue with it next week? Hope so!

Joely Sue Burkhart 12/21/2007 9:02 PM  

This really is an interesting world and I'm hoping you continue working on it!

Anonymous,  12/21/2007 10:57 PM  

This reminds me of C.L. Moore's work--especially her space opera stuff. And that's a compliment.

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