A Bad Beginning

Prologue to “The Flower of Forever” – 3rd unpublished novel by Ruth Anne Meredith

~*~*~*~*~

Forever’s Enchanted Skies are not quite the most pleasant settings for our story to begin, especially on one such a LateWinter evening as this one. Unfortunately, it is.

Forever’s LateWinter Ticherian Skies are enduring a nasty little Monster of a Storm.

The Winds are chasing away her Birds, the Lightning is striking down her fair-haired Trees, and the torrential Rain is flooding over her nicely-kept lawns, Forests, and Meads. Her Natural beauty is being ruined.

EveryCreature in the Ticherian Realm – on foot, fin, or wing – has commenced to stow him or herself away to some topped haven or another. Their eyes watch the aggressive Storm with anticipation, glittering from between the Raindrops.

The crew of the flying Merchant ship Ticherian Treasure are striving doggedly to relocate their position in Forever’s corrupted Skies. Their Captain, a handsome young Elf of whose name noCreature is wholly sure of, is rushing about in the cabin. Elves in Forever are well-known for their pale beauty, pointed ears, flawless complexions, and green eyes. This Captain looks as though he may very well have leapt straight out of a Maiden’s dream. But why is he rushing around in that cabin, instead of standing on deck with his Merchant Sailors?

Could it be because the Storm rolled in? Perhaps.

Or could it be that his wife just gave birth, promptly died, and the baby Boy set up a series of wails so piercing that he nearly drowned out the Storm.

Hastily, he wraps the bawling baby in his own cape and holds him snugly to his chest. What can he do now? His only true love, his wife, is gone. She lies in a shadowed heap on a bed in the corner. And the child he has waited so long to meet looks up at him with eyes full of helplessness. The father’s heart fills with stabbing grief, pride, and gripping anxiety. What is he supposed to do? He yelps as Thunder strikes and one of his crew bursts in.

“We’re lost, Captain!” the flustered Nymph reports, blowing his wet blue hair from his face. “The Storm’s thrown us off, and the Ticherian Treasure doesn’t look like she can take much more of a beating. What shall we do?”

The Elf Captain spins around with the baby hugged to his chest. He doesn’t care that his face is striped with tears.

“We will have to Land.”

“In Water, sir?”

“Yes, in Water. Oh, Dreadful Dragons, where is that map?”

In the guttering light cast by the waning lantern, the Elf rummages among his scattered desk papers. The Thunder thrums with his heart in his ears. Where is that old map? The newborn’s cries are drowned out by the growling Storm.

“Here!” he exclaims at last, bracing himself against the rocking vessel. He pulls a crumpled parchment from the documents on his desk and shakes it in an attempt to straighten it legibly. He studies it for only a moment and then slams it down with one pointed finger on the Ticherian Lagoon.

“Here,” he says, looking at the blue-haired Nymph. “The last time I checked, we were half a Day NorthEast from this Ticherian Lagoon. If I am correct, we may be but blown to the side of it at the moment. The Storm has moved us SouthWest, so we may very well be right on top of it. How low are we flying?”

A flash of Lightning splits the Sky, illuminating the Merchant Sailor’s wet, frightened face.

“J-just above the Trees of the Redwood Acres, Captain – ‘tis the lowest we can go without crashing.”

“Good enough. Has anyCreature spotted the Lagoon?”

Distractedly, the nervous Sailor casts a weary glance over his shoulder.

“Not y- GASP!”

Carefully but urgently, the Captain pushes past the shivering Merchant and plunges into the sheets of Rain on deck, holding his bundle of screaming baby very tight.

Thunder rolls as Lightning flashes again. And this time, it illuminates something else.

An obstruction.

Straight in front of them.

Half-Redwood, half-Banyan Trees in Forever are extremely rare. An old saying states that there are only five of them that grow in Forever. This one is a middle-aged one, for they are known to grow quite slowly. It furnishes the tiny IsLand in the center of the Lagoon that few know about.

Unfortunately, the Elf Captain is not one of the few. Until now.

The great Tree looms just in front of them, gnashing her strangling branches in the Wind.

His heart plunges to his ankles. So this was how they were all to die. The Men around him stare in awestricken horror at the writhing old Tree. And he stands like a Stone, frozen in pain and guilt. He cannot dare himself to look into the eyes of his newborn son. He fears it would give the Child a sense of security that he could no longer guarantee.

He later wished he would have, just to see that little face one last time.

A terrible tragedy, the Ticherian Treasure crashes into the half-RedWood, half-Banyan Tree, catching itself fast in the mystic Tree’s branches. The sounds of wood squeaking against wood is deafening and the whole IsLand shakes.  

Lightning silhouettes the bodies of the crew as they are catapulted into the air from the force. All control is lost as they slam into the Tree’s strangling branches and fall hundreds of feet to their deaths.

Not one of the Creatures from that crew lived to see another Day.

None, save but the tiny baby, whose long gown is now caught in the branches of the enchanted Tree. His cries fall upon dead ears. His mother and father are dead. Perhaps soon, he will be too.

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