Life: Elysian

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: November 30, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: November 30, 2017



This world is unlike any other. Yet, I suppose everyone would say that about their home worlds, don’t they? However, I’d wager that Elysian is truly like no other place. Here, everything is full of…life. It sounds strange to say it like that, but I have no other words to describe it! Everything here is positively thriving! In our studies, we’ve learned about other worlds and their own eco-systems; one that stood out to me, was the planet Earth. They did have a system much like our own; oxygenated, mostly covered in water, few continents, atmosphere, and populated by humans and beasts. Unlike our own, however, the vegetation and animal life on Earth seemed…inadequate.

Perhaps that is an understatement. The humans were much like us Elysians, yet their eco-system consisted of proportions around their own, very rarely larger. They seemed to fear anything bigger than themselves. Here on Elysian, everything was several times larger; offering much in the way of produce and productivity. Someone once said, the reason Earth’s habitation was so meager, was that they didn’t possess a magnificent Tree of Life, such that we did.

This wonderful creation stood near to my home, and I loved to walk past it every chance I got. It was of thick, sturdy, and richly warm wood; wide and lush green leaves of a brilliant green. Elegant fissures spidered up the trunk of the tree and through each branch, emitting a phosphorescent green glow. I’d always though of this tree as the most beautiful thing on this planet. I never dreamed I’d be accused of its death.

It all started one night, whilst I was on my walk home. I took my usual route home; enjoying the night sounds and the glittering black sky. It had rained the night previously and the air was still full of the scent of fresh; fresh grass, earth, even the air itself was fresh. I was almost at the tree when I heard a distinctive cutting sound. With a frown, I rounded the last corner and the tree came into view. It wasn’t unusual to find someone near the tree; we all loved and took what time we could to admire it, but the woman kneeling at the roots now was no Elysian.

Tall and slender with flowing raven hair, skin as pale as moonlight, and dressed like that of a Victorian gothic ballet dancer. The woman caught sight of me; her pale eyes filled with first, surprise, then undeniable mischief. She rose and tucked something out of sight into corset on her slender waist. I took a step closer and spotted something glinting around her neck; a thin chain of gold bearing a pendant spelling out Dawn. Before I could say a word, she spun gracefully, and uttered a strange word in a musical tone. The air rippled before her, like water touched by a zephyr, then a brilliant gold oval sparkled and the space inside was filled with a view of what was definitely not Elysian. The woman ducked into the portal and the gold oval snapped shut with a shower of sparks.

I stood, both irresolute and shocked at what had just happened. After a second, I shook myself and knelt beside the tree, examining the roots and lower section of the trunk. I knew I’d heard the woman cutting something, but I couldn’t see where anything had been tampered with. I lingered a moment longer, until I heard footsteps, then with a troubled mind, I made my way home. That night, I had troubled dreams where the tree began to wilt and die; its leaves turning a sickly brown, then to black and falling off. I woke in a panic, then slept in fitful bursts afterward.

When morning finally came, I rushed through getting dressed and eating, then raced out into the street. The people I passed seemed their normal, happy, and peaceful selves, so obviously no one else knew of the woman, and the tree must’ve still be fine, but I wouldn’t feel at ease until I saw for myself. The three blocks to the square where the tree stood seemed like miles. When I finally broke into the square, my breathing was constricted, sweat soaked my brow, and my gut was tied up in knots.

At first glance, everything about the tree was normal. It stood just as proudly now as it did before. The leaves were still a brilliant green, the fissures still glowed, everything seemed perfect. Taking a steadying breath, I approached the tree to take a closer look. I still couldn’t see where the roots had been tampered with, everything looked normal. Letting out a sigh of relief, I turned away and nearly ran right into Kameron, the Head Councilman’s steward.

Kameron was a weaselly, greasy-haired, disgusting type of man. He was literally the only unpleasant thing on Elysian. It amazed many people that such a man was a steward to a high placed official, but no one dared say anything.

“Morning, Steward.” I said cautiously. Kameron wasn’t the type to do anything by himself unless he had someone at his back.

“You’re not usually here, this early in the morning.” He pointed out, his bloodshot eyes flicked to the tree and back to my face. “What’re you up to?” He demanded.

“I’m not doing anything.” I protested honestly. “I just-.” For some reason, I stopped. A gut feeling was telling me to keep what happened a secret, at least from Kameron.

“Just what? Sneaking around?” He retorted, taking an unwelcome step closer.

“In the daylight?” I queried, motioning to the brilliant sky and the several dozens of other people walking past. “Besides, I come here often enough, how would you know anything about it?”

“Be on your way then, peon.” Kameron ignored my question and shooed me away.

Not wanting to make a scene, I scurried away, glancing over my shoulder as I went. Kameron was studying the tree; its trunk, the leaves, and the roots. For a second, he knelt, his fingers running along one of the larger roots. A slight and chilling smile flashed across his face, so quick I wasn’t sure I’d really seen it. Feeling jumpy, I tried to put the whole incident out of my mind, including the mysterious Dawn necklace wearer. It was entirely possible I’d dreamed her up as well, right? There wasn’t anything wrong with the tree…right?

Somehow, I was able to put it all in the back of my mind. I went about my day as usual, studies, work, then the fall concert held in the Main Square. Everything seemed so normal that I couldn’t help but to forget my worry. Nothing bad ever happened here, not even Kameron, creepy as the man was. The only time I allowed myself to think about what happened, was on my solitary walk home. I had to take one last look, just to make sure. I reached the tree, my breath held in anticipation of some great change, but…nope. There it stood, just as magnificent as before.

Feeling more at ease, I gave the tree one single pat of goodbye, then went on my way home. I had just reached my street when a tapping of footsteps made my look up. Standing just outside my house was that same woman; dressed the same, hair still hanging loose, eyes filled with mischief. I froze as I caught sight of her, feeling my blood run cold. What was she doing back? More importantly, what the hell was she doing outside my house?

She floated down the steps and walked up to meet me, a smile on her lips. She stopped just beside me and spoke.

“Have you said your goodbyes?” Her tone was smooth and full of taunting. “It won’t be long…and they’ll be coming for you.”

“What? What are you taking about?” I asked, my own voice coming out in a cracked whisper. There was an aura of danger about this woman and I didn’t like it one bit.

For her part, she merely smiled wickedly, then repeated that unintelligible word to conjure up that glowing golden disc. She was gone in the next blink of my eyes. I stood staring at where she’d disappeared, feeling an icy weight in my stomach. My eyes flicked towards my house and the feeling strengthened. Feeling like my legs had turned to stone, I stumbled drunkenly up the steps, my breathing becoming constricted with every step.

I opened the door and flicked on the living room lights. Nothing looked out of place, nothing unusual lay in plain sight. Had she just been looking for me? Was she just trying to warn me? Those possibilities didn’t sit well in my mind. Something told me she wasn’t on my side at all. I went through the entire house, top to bottom, looking for something, anything! Just like the living room, nothing was out of place in any of the other rooms. My gut was tied up in painful knots, but with no evidence, I had no reason to believe Dawn had ever actually been in my house.

Uncomfortable and slightly frightened, I tried to make my normal bedtime preparations; a hot shower, a mug of coffee, and my favorite music playing in my ears. For nearly an hour I jumped at the smallest sound, flinched at every creak of the floorboards, I even choked on my coffee when bright lights suddenly flashed through my windows. It was with an unsettled mind that I finally gave it up and crawled into bed. As I lay down, curling up on my side, one hand slipped beneath the pillows. My fingers brushed something icy cold and a shocking shiver went down my spine, accompanied with a heavy weight dropping into my stomach.

I slowly withdrew my hand, cradling the object in my shaking palm. One look at the object was all I needed, then I screamed. The object was a pair of silver shears, small enough to be pocket size, but sturdy enough to cut a branch, a living tree branch, a branch from the Tree of Life to be exact. A thick liquid stained the blades a brilliant shade of green. This is what Dawn was talking about, this is what she’d used that night on the tree. It was only too obvious why it was in my room. I was being framed. The question was why? Why pick me?

I remembered Kameron kneeling and smiling at the base of the tree. Someone in the Council was looking to frame an innocent person. They wanted the tree to die, or be damaged, and they were willing to use some otherworldly woman to do it. I couldn’t piece together any sort of motive; the culprit would be just as hurt by the tree dying as anyone else. That tree literally supplied our world with life. Without it, we’d survive only as long as the produce and oxygen did. With thousands upon thousands of inhabitants…that wouldn’t be long at all.

That night was the longest of my life. I stashed the incriminating shears in a locked drawer, knowing full well it would do no good. I spent the rest of the long hours pacing the house, staring out the windows, and expecting to see a mob marching up to my door. When dawn finally came, I wasn’t relieved in the slightest. If Kameron was in league with this Dawn woman, I knew it was only a matter of time. With that knowledge, I dressed and ate with a knot in my stomach.

Before I left the house for my studies, I stood in front of the closed door for a good fifteen minutes, just trying to summon up the courage to step outside. I knew today was going to be different. They wouldn’t have planted that evidence otherwise, right? During my pacing last night, my mind had been racing at top speed. Perhaps they weren’t waiting until the tree started dying, maybe they’d find the evidence, accuse me, and convict me; all before the tree suffered any irreparable damage. Maybe that Dawn woman knew how to heal the tree, perhaps she made a deal with Kameron; something in exchange for her sabotage.

With a shaking hand, I finally opened the door and stepped out into the sunlight. I started down the steps, feeling more and more ill with each step. By the time I reached the tree, I didn’t think I could feel any worse, but one glance at the leaves proved me wrong. They were no longer their normal, sprightly green. Now they were brown and a sickly yellow. As I stared in horror, one leaf fell, turning black before it hit the ground. Several other people had stopped to stare at the tree as well; muttering and whispering in shock and concern. It wasn’t long before a crowd began to form, then…I heard just what I’d been dreading and expecting.

“Alright, what’s going on here?!” Kameron’s unpleasant voice sounded over the muttering. The crowed parted to let the weaselly man through. He strode right up to the tree, taking a long and overly dramatic look at the dying leaves. “What have you done?” He whispered suddenly, whirling to face me. In the silence, his voice carried over the crowd with ease. Soon, everyone started whispering once more.

“No! No, no I-I didn’t! I swear!” I cried out, backing away quickly. “There was another woman-she-she did this!”  I could tell by the look on Kameron’s face, that this was exactly what he’d wanted me to say. I was only incriminating myself further by creating some fake person to take the blame.

“Guards!” Kameron shouted, and almost immediately, a dozen guards descended upon the square.

The next moments were a complete blur. I was shackled, practically drug through town until we reached the Council Hall, then thrown into a cell in the lowest dungeon. That’s where I’ve been for the past week. They convicted me within a day, then sentenced me the next day…death by burning. They’d have plenty of wood too, once they cut down the life tree. They waited long enough for it to die, they began to chop in earnest. Upon the word of a lying weasel…the whole community was willing to sacrifice an innocent person. They’d been given evidence (false), they’d been given motive (also false), and they’d been given a choice. Sure, there were a handful who believed my innocence…but like I said…no one dared speak out.

So…now here I find myself…tied to a stake in the center of the Main Square. The whole community is gathered around, some bearing torches, some bearing accelerant. I can see the Head Councilman seated and surrounded by his fellows. Kameron is whispering something wicked in his ear and they both grin. There’s a flicker of ebony just over Kameron’s shoulder. She’d appeared. Dawn drifted through the crowd; her eyes locked upon me, her face completely impassive.

“Death…came for you…” She spoke, and though I shouldn’t have been able to hear her, I could, as if she spoke right into my mind. “Just as swiftly as it came…for me.” Her last words chilled me, and for a long moment, I just stared at her.

Then, the accelerant was thrown, followed by the torches. Never had I experienced such pain. The flames caught quickly, racing over the wood, my clothes, my hair. My skin began to sweat, then to peel, then to truly melt from my bones. My throat was raw from screaming, my eyes were dry and burning. I wanted it to end, to have nothing but the black emptiness and no pain. It seemed to take ages, but maybe that’s because I was the one in hell. Funny, isn’t it? How those with power can play with the lower people’s lives? My last thought before the sweet embrace of death enveloped me, was that it wouldn’t be long before the people came to their senses, and then they’d realize, their death warrant had been signed just as surely as my own. Karma’s a real bitch.

© Copyright 2018 C A Sechler. All rights reserved.

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