Friday, December 28, 2007

Friday Snippets 25

This is the last of what I wrote on this story back in the early eighties when I was in my mid twenties. I am surprised by how much I am still pleased with it. Maybe enough to return to it. It was exposure to Holly Lisle's world building advice on her site that made me start thinking about it again.

If you missed the first two: Part One <> Part Two

Or if you've not the time for nearly 3K for all three here is a synopsis: Mourna has decided to attempt a rescue of her son, Jamyl, who had been torn from her arms and consigned to the Cairn of the Corrupt. She must first escape from the caravan conducting her and others from the Body to their exile in the Colonies of the Woeful. On her way out of her tent with her companion Puryl, La'zurra, riding on her shoulder, she glances at the sky and the light of one of Zircon's moons reminds her of the story of the Advent of the Lord and Lady upon Mount Womb:

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.

The Wailing Womb
by Joy Renee

1. The Mourning Mother (part three)

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.

3 tell me a story:

Joely Sue Burkhart 12/28/2007 6:56 PM  

Oh, wow, you really ought to expand this some day. Where did she come from?!?!

Anonymous,  12/28/2007 10:05 PM  

This seems to be a well-thought out world and culture. I'm interested to see where it goes.

IanT 12/29/2007 6:14 AM  

Sounds like a pretty deep world you've got growing there. Just be careful not to bedazzle the reader with terms too fast. :-)

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