I began working on this in 1994, and have abandoned it a number of times. I have my criticisms, but won't share them here – I don't want to taint anyone's perception. However, if the same sort of feedback comes up here, I know it is not me being paranoid about the writing. On the other hand, I could be suffering from having read the piece over and over again, and reworked infinite times over the past decade and a half, that it's getting hard to see what's working and what's not. So I open it up to you for feedback … critique away.
Working Title: Diabolous
Current word count: 10, 053 words
Intention: Colour picture story book, between 30, 000 and 40, 000 words.
Unknowing of my destiny,
I fly to places concealed.
The tenderness all around.
Within my soul rests a beauty
So deep – so exquisite in every way.
I know that it will surface
And all will be revealed.
Through a journey, I am guided.
By a voice from afar.
Serene in touch,
Reverie so pure.
Please do not wake me
It is all that I hold dear.
"Close your eyes Elia. Feel yourself being drawn to the edge of this world." Jonathan kept whispering the instructions over and over into her ears.
"Goodbye brother." Elia replied as she looked into his wise eyes for the last time.
"I will be with you always," he reminded her, "try not to fear the journey and remember that you will be home soon." Elia felt her body become much heavier than it had ever felt before. It had become so heavy that it was almost a hindrance. The classes given by her brother and teacher now played a significant part in the ritual as she let her body become heavier and heavier; so much so that her true self finally lifted up and out of the cumbersome flesh. Jonathan looked to the women in the room and more specifically to Sophie.
"I will join her now. The Diabolous have become too menacing a threat not to be ignored. She doesn't yet have the strength to survive the journey without me. We have lost too many friends to their ways already." His last comment was almost a whisper as he thought of his dear friend Connor, the first taken, lost twelve years ago to the vengeful and predatory beings. Sophie too, was well aware of how powerful the immortal beings had become. Connor had been one of the most influential teachers in the realm, but was lost when he traveled to the forbidden side of the land looking for Amethyst crystal spoken about in the Ancient Scrolls. He intended to use it to make an especially strong orb. One that would help him to understand so much more about the world he lived in. His search led him to a deep underground cave, so dark that his lantern barely lit up the steps before him. His journey ended as he used his small pick to dislodge some of the Amethyst at base of the cave. It was this movement that made the wraith like beings aware of his presence and, as he was unaware of theirs, they could watch for as long as they liked. These creatures used their own evil senses to determine Connor's one weakness, his endless quest for knowledge and his determination to do anything to gain it; hence his search for the Amethyst in these forbidden lands.
The Diabolous watched as Connor fashioned the Amethyst into the orb he craved and as he searched deep within the crystal, the dark souls devoured his mind, taking away his happiness, making him unable to rely on his intuition. He had become a recluse, locking himself in his room for hours on end, gazing into the orb until he was no longer the Connor that had been a dear friend to Jonathan. It was only chance that Jonathan had stumbled on Connor's fate. But by then the Diabolous were now infinitely stronger with Connor's life force and knowledge. All Jonathan could do was banish the vile beings from the realm; too late for his friend however, whose soul had already been taken, leaving behind a man who was so filled with despair that no ritual could help him. His anguish filled his whole existence so much so that he now lived in a tomb like room on the edge of death. He did not speak, did not eat and would not move. Yet he would never die, because the realm did not know death like the Earthly one and as long as there was a small amount of soul left he would not die. Jonathan was loathe to let him pass, as that meant letting the Diabolous back into the province to consume what was left of the man. Connor was sentenced to spend eternity in his last resting place, neither alive nor dead and always fearing the return of the callous and manipulative beings. Since him there had been others, but none so devastating for Jonathan. The Diabolous, banished from their original domain moved to the Earthly world where it was much easier to move through the existence of others. It was in this world that many other friends had been lost. While most had made similar mistakes to Connor, there were a few too vulnerable to have the strength to withstand the danger they feared, and it was these people that the Diabolous now craved. There was only one way their mangled and gnarled hands could reach these victims, and that was in the journey between worlds. The young souls were weak from the journey, hence Jonathan's reason to join his sister on her crossing.
"Be careful," Sophie implored as Jonathan joined his hands with his sister's and let himself slowly join her in her dream like state. Jonathan took a few deep breaths. Practise allowed him to quickly move through the stages needed to separate his soul from his physical body. Soon enough he was with his beloved sister.
"Sister, are you ready to leave?" Jonathan looked towards Elia and took her hand in his. They both turned towards the bed and Elia was clearly shocked at the sight of her empty body draped across the satin.
"It will be safe?" she questioned. "You're sure that nothing can come in here to disturb my journey?" Elia was beginning to show some of the fear that she felt.
"Do not be afraid," her brother responded. "You do not have Connor's fate. There are many who will protect you throughout this phase of your life. I will guide you through your journey and soon you will have the strength to look after yourself. Now let's leave, it is getting late." Elia took one last look at the room that held her body. Her eyes were closed and her dark hair had fallen loosely around her shoulders to her waist. This was in stark contrast to the white gown worn by the sleeping figure. Beside her limp body was Jonathan's sleeping stature. He was sitting on the chair beside the bed, his head leaning on the arm draped across the bed. This arm had reached across to Elia's body and held her hand. Against the wall were a multitude of small burning candles, flickering and dancing light up the sandy-coloured bricks. The candles were the only source of light in the room as all others would have been too harsh for the ritual, but it was not dark in the room. The room would stay like this for the whole of her absence, with the exception of Jonathan's body. He would leave her as soon as he had returned from safely seeing her initial journey through. It would be up to the women in the room to tend her body over the years. One day it would be her turn to be a part of this ritual, but not before she had completed the journey herself. Jonathan squeezed Elia's hand, reminding her that they must be leaving. She could now see a doorway towards the back of the room, one that had not been there before.
"It can only be seen with the mind's eye," Jonathan explained when she asked about it. "You are not taking your body on this journey so it is not a physical doorway that we need to have opened for us. It leads to a hallway and eventually to the doorway that opens up to the Earthly realm. It will be there that I leave you." Elia was not afraid anymore. Her brother had taught her well. She knew that soon she would begin to think like those who live in the Earth realm. All she had learnt would remain with her, but be much harder to find. There were other lessons that she was to learn in this stage of her life. It was a troublesome time for all who undertook the journey and she had heard of many who had faltered in the destined path. It was a hard path too, because you were never allowed to know much about the journey before leaving. Already she could not smell anything from the room she had left. The women who would tend her body over the years had become a distant memory. She could not see Jonathan anymore; only sense his continued presence urging her forwards. Finally they reached a doorway at the end of the corridor. The corridor's white walls paled in comparison to the scene beyond the doorway. The wood of the doorway framed the vision; clear blue waves falling over themselves as they crashed towards the shoreline. The sand reflected the intensity of the sun resting high above the horizon and beside the cliff face stood a lone figure. Elia's future mother.
"This is where we part dear sister. It is your journey now. Be strong and do not forget your home or what I have taught you in the short time we have been together. Walk towards her, she is alone and with child. You will start to forget as you walk towards her because an earthly child has little memory or understanding in this world. It is part of what you have to gain. Do not be afraid when you feel the overwhelming pull from the growing body. It is your body for this world and your soul will move to it like a magnet." Jonathan stopped and turned towards Elia, gave her one last embrace and then turned and walked away. She was alone. All at once she found herself moving across the sands towards her mother. Elia turned and watched the waves thunder in towards the land and beach themselves like a whale. As she drew near the woman she grew more apprehensive.
"Is it too late to turn back?" Elia asked out loud then chastised herself straight away. It needs to be done, I cannot turn back. Knowing this Elia pressed on. She could feel the sting of the fresh salty air as it passed through her. The breeze caused the woman to turn towards her and Elia gasped.
"Sybella." It was Sophie's sister. Jonathan had chosen wisely. Sybella was sure to teach Elia all that she needed to learn. She was lucky that her mother had been chosen from her own world. She will understand our ways and will remind me, Elia smiled. Already she could feel the pull from the human form inside Sybella's womb. Elia let herself be drawn in, secure in the thought that the woman would be a good mother and that this journey would not be a dangerous one. Elia could only vaguely remember being a part of another world. A world where she was grown and she could talk to those who were around her. Forgetfulness washed over her as she passed into the human form and she curled into a deep sleep.