Birdcage

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Chapter I: Darkness, or: the death of a mother

Submitted: April 30, 2019

Reads: 721

Comments: 1

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Submitted: April 30, 2019

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Memory is a fickle thing. I cannot imagine how many things I have forgotten over the course of my life. Entire days, good and bad alike, have become consigned to oblivion by the passage of time. Days spent laughing and drinking with friends have disappeared like rain after the storm has ceased. Even the faces of people who were once so dear to me have begun to fade away.

 

But, that being said, there are a few days that I will never forget. The first of these days came when I was seven years old. That was the day my mother died.

 

I was born in a small fishing village on the bay of a large lake, a dozen miles from the nearest town. I can still remember the color that lake shined in the light of morning and the smell of the trees at the beginning of spring. Forgive me for being sentimental, but I cherish the memories I retain from my youth.

 

Back then, I lived alone with my mother. She was a smart, friendly woman who worked as a waitress at a bar near our home. She worked long hours, deep into the nights so that she could make enough to give me a decent life. I remember her being constantly exhausted, but keeping a cheery smile on her face for me. As a kid, I didn’t really understand why she did the things she did. Now that I have grown up and matured, I know the great depths her love for me went.

 

It was a day sunny outside, the day my mother died. It’s funny, if you think about it, that the weather would be so good on such a horrible day. You always think that, when darkness comes, a storm will accompany it. But, in my experience, sunny days are often the most painful.

 

My mother in I lived in a small house near the woods. I must confess, I skipped school to play in those woods far too often. In those woods there stood a large oak tree that stretched far into the sky. I was a young boy, so I spent my days trying to climb it, as young boys do.

 

On that sunny day in March, all those years ago, I ditched school and ran to that massive tree. When I got there I noticed a small bluebird, perched atop the tallest branch of the tree. Although I had tried to climb the tree many times before, I had never successfully made it to the top. I don’t know why, but when I saw that bird at the top of the tree, I knew that that would be the day where I finally made it to the top.

 

So I started climbing. Bit by bit, I rose higher and higher up that massive tree. I almost slipped a few times, but luckily managed to catch myself before falling. Then, I made it. I stood atop that tree, triumphant.

 

From the top of that tree, I could see the entirety of the village. I could even see the Capitol, the greatest city in all of Cieleta. I turned to look at the bluebird and smiled. The bird stared at me inquisitively, unsure if I was friend or foe. Suddenly, it took flight and left me alone atop that tree.

 

It wasn’t the only bird to flee; every animal in that forest took flight at the same time, running from horrors I couldn’t see. I searched the forest, trying to find the source of their fear.

 

Off in the distance, I noticed something strange. A funnel of black wind, swirling around a town on the other side of the forest. When I saw the wind, a feeling of dread grabbed my heart and refused to let go. I knew that something bad was about to happen.

 

The funnel expanded, encroaching on the woods. Violet lightning spewed from the funnel, striking trees. Then, the wind and lightning subsided. For a moment, I thought I was safe. Then the forest began to shake, and a hurricane of black wind erupted from where the funnel had stood.

 

The eruption knocked me off the tree. I fell on my arm and heard the crunch as it snapped. I suppose, looking back, breaking my arm must have been painful. However, I was far too preoccupied to notice. I stared at the sky and saw black clouds that blacked out the sun.

 

I stared at those clouds, into the all-consuming darkness that had enveloped my world, and was afraid. I struggled to breathe as the air turned stale and heavy, like poison that burned my lungs.

 

Eventually, the clouds dispersed, allowing sunlight to pour through the trees. I saw what remained of the forest. The trees were grey and free of leaves, and the grass beneath me was dead and yellow. I could hear no birds chirping, nor the sound of the wind rustling through the trees. All that remained was the putrid remnant of death.

 

Fear filled my heart as I fled from the forest. I ran back into town. The once busy village was silent, free from any commotion. I saw carts full of goods left unattended, with even their horses missing. Piles of grey dust were scattered throughout the street. I ignored these things as I sprinted for my home.

 

I ripped open the door of our small cottage. My mother was lying on the ground, her face pale. Her right hand tightly gripped a small letter. I ran over to her and she smiled. “Ernest, you’re okay,” she said. “That’s...fantastic.”

 

Those were the last words she ever spoke to me. She closed her eyes for the final time. I felt tears streak down my face. Her body withered away into dust, leaving me alone.

 

I don’t quite remember what happened after that. I blacked out. The next day, they found me have dead outside the Capitol. Apparently, I’d walked there in my daze.

 

My arm healed, but the wounds in my heart lingered. I was the sole survivor of my village. All of the others were reduced to dust. People called my survival a miracle. It never felt like that to me. I was forced to live with the grief of witnessing so much pain. If anything, surviving was a curse, one that festered within me and drove me mad.

 

The day that the sky turned black became known as the Purge. Across the world, cities were reduced to dust by storms and lightning, leaving only a third of Magpur's population alive. Eventually, I learned that the Purge was caused by two warlocks trying to play God. The good people of Cieleta didn’t take kindly to warlocks slaughtering their people and outlawed all forms of dark magic. Two years after the Purge, Cieleta invaded Arbum, a neighboring country home to the world’s greatest warlocks. Streets ran red with the blood of dead dark mages. After Abrum was reduced to ash, peace finally came to my country. At least, for a while.

 

All though we didn’t know it at the time, the Purge was but a precursor to a much greater tragedy, one that I would play a part in causing.


© Copyright 2019 Casey Jarmes. All rights reserved.

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