Pytraic and Elebeya: The Gorge Memory

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Originally meant to be the introduction to a work that never got started, this is now just a one-chapter bit that contains (for me) a world of potential that will probably never get realized. The characters are very alive in my mind, but I will probably never actually be able to get my attention span to focus on writing long enough to get them on paper.

Submitted: August 18, 2015

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Submitted: August 18, 2015

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The canyon gaped wide at Pytraic's feet. Sheer walls of variegated, crumbling granite cascaded downwards to a miniscule, sluggish creek nearly a mile below. Deadly the canyon was, said the locals. None who visited the edge of the gorge ever returned to tell of its beauty--or its ugliness. Or so they speculated. Little did they know that one man had looked upon its secrets and survived. Yet even he had not escaped unscathed.

Pytraic closed his eyes, the sight of the bleached, broken skeletons littering the side of the canyon wall bringing the memory rushing back. He felt and heard ghostly whispers in the breeze rushing up past him from within the gorged maw. Unnatural presences swirled and shifted around him, one in particular becoming more and more clear to him. He heard the shout of warning from behind--felt the rush of air from behind as the phantasm sprinted to his side at the edge of the dizzying height. Heard the crumbling of long-fallen stone at the edge of the cliff as the ghost swirled vaporously around and pushed him away from the edge. Felt the impact on his chest from hands that now lay broken below. Heard on the wind a sigh of farewell as, with tear-filled eyes still closed, he snatched at the air in a effort, vain as always, to catch the outstretched arms of the presence he felt before it disappeared forever. He could feel a flood of emotion building up, as it always did when he came to remember Trass' sacrifice. And still, as always, the tears refused to fall.

Suddenly, Pytraic heard a soft whisper of movement behind him. He stiffened. Those shifts in the wind and moans on the breeze had been but memories, sensory experiences projected by his mind. Immediately, his mind jumped to the many tales told by locals. Was the place indeed haunted by some monster other than himself? Was it mere luck that he had, so far, escaped his own death on the rocks below? His mind whirled as his body froze, paralyzed by fear and foreboding.

"Father?"

A hand lightly touched his shoulder as a soft voice spoke from his side--from a spot at the edge of the cliff.

His eyes flew open and he spun, staring wide-eyed at the person who had appeared next to him.

"Elebeya? What are you doing here?" His voice cracked with disbelief as his stunned gaze fell upon the fair girl who stood looking at him with concern in her deep brown eyes. Then, remembering where they were standing, he grabbed her arm and forcefully pulled her back from the edge. "Why . . . ? How . . . ?"

She blanched and suddenly seemed to realize the danger she had been in. "Forgive me, Father! You left your diary unshelved when you left and I couldn't help reading it. Why, Father? Why have you come to Glethywin Gorge?"

Her eyes pierced his, seeming to search his mind for answers that he would not--no, could not give her. She could never know the true story. She, in truth Elebeya the daughter of Trass, not Elebeya the daughter of Pytraic, could never know the full story of how her father had died at that same gorge.

She spoke again, more demandingly. "Father. You know they say that to look upon the canyon is death. Why are you here?"

As he stood, struck dumb, looking down at her brown eyes filled with worry, a promise he'd made long ago echoed into his mind, whispered from a long-forgotten memory. He's promised Trass to protect her, to love her as his own daughter. Trass, of course, hadn't been around to hear. But now, looking at his companion's daughter, he was filled with remorse and resolved anew to honor that promise. Taking her into his embrace, he let the floodgates finally break and felt, as he wept, the first pangs of forgiveness. He knew he would never be truly free of the guilt and pain he always felt whenever he thought of Trass. But at least he knew he could honor this promise, and turn away for once and for all from the allure of that dark cliff.


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