On a cold, stormy night I came into this world. I bore the dual stigma of not just being born into a slave family, but also of killing my mother. They say my mother, who would get visions, had predicted it, but had still kept me alive in her womb because she foresaw what I would become. Oh mother, if only you knew!
Right from when I was a child I came to learn what it meant to be ‘marked’. It meant being trapped in a hovel I called home because my mere shadow would scare the children away. I was a walking, breathing bad omen. And if ever I did venture out, I was subjected to stares, curses and stones.
It meant being isolated because no one wanted to even look at me for fear of bringing a great evil upon themselves.
It meant being cursed and beaten black and blue by a father who prayed everyday for my death. Guess what Father, I did too!
It meant being starved to the point that my ribs stuck out like those of a carcass of a forgotten beast found in the wilderness.
It meant being starved to the point where I had to teach myself how to survive on grass and maggots.
It meant being the victim of lecherous jibes and unfair accusations of having ensnared the ‘noble’ men and their boys.
It meant being sentenced to be torn apart by hungry beasts as ‘punishment’ for a crime I did not even commit.
But that is when things took a turn. For the better.
For as the beasts ripped me apart in the cemetery, limb by limb, my heart, it beat stronger; my shredded skin knit itself back on my bones; my blood would seep back into the pores of my skin, and it was the dogs who died, because my flesh that they consumed, poisoned them. And then, as the moon shone the highest in the winter sky, I gathered myself up from the dirt and spoke in an ancient tongue I know not how I knew. It was as if some spirit spoke through me. I remember feeling the strength of ten mammoths buzz inside me. I remember ripping the lone tree in the cemetery out by the roots as if it was only a sapling, shredding it down to nine posts that I then forced into the earth in a circle around me. I remember breathing fire into the tree’s branches, and I remember stepping into the fire but not burning. The fire fed me. The fire became me. I was renewed.
And when I cried out from rapture, the fire, it sprang from me right out towards the nine posts, and then buried itself into nine graves closest to the posts. The earth in the cemetery, it shone like molten lava, the obsidian and the amber creating a spectacular sight. And then I remember hands, heads and then entire bodies of those nine deceased stepping out of the graves, lumbering towards me with arms outstretched as if I was Life itself. Then I remember being claimed by the dark.
When I came to, The Nine became my sentinels. They would not let anyone close enough to as much as gaze at me. The Nine, their skins never showed the marks of being tainted by death. Their minds were as sharp, their memories as vivid as the last time they breathed. The Nine were reborn. And I was their life. If I lived The Nine lived. And I was now immortal.
Did that mean that the village now gave me the peace due to me? No. I had become even greater an evil to them. I was the devil incarnate. They would not let me live amongst them, now more than ever before. Thus, The Nine carried me deep into the woods where they built this hut, our home. No one ventured into my part of the woods. I lived on there for days, months, years. Time had ceased to hold any meaning for me now. Time could never hurt me or The Nine.
I never returned to the village, the place of my incarceration. And the village forgot me eventually.
Till The Black Sickness descended on it.
It ate their health away. Melted their skins into charred parchment. Warped their bones like gnarled roots of aged trees. Life became worse than death. A great many of them died slow, painful deaths. So many that they had to dig out old graves to bury the new dead. That is when they remembered me.
They came to me with hands outstretched, tears streaming down their dirt-streaked faces and their voices all knotted up in their throats because of days and days of crying. They prayed to me to bring back their dead. Bring them back healthy. Turn the sickness away.
I ordered them all away and The Nine began to do my bidding, when one girl slipped through their mighty barrier and approached me. She was nearly blackened everywhere, stricken by The Black Sickness. She wore a collar over her throat, just as I did once. It’s ugly stain was the only mark on my body that the fire within me could not cleanse. A constant reminder of my roots.
She was me, the girl, an object of pity and disgust. And she said unto me, “I wish to be like you. Pray, take me under your wing and I’ll worship you.” And I did, not because I wished to be worshiped, but because I craved companionship. The Nine never spoke. They only obeyed, like faithful cur. So when the girl I did take for myself, I knew I would help the village too.
Now I stand before this cemetery, the place of my end and my beginnig. I now stand to bring to life the dead, the same dead who once wished death upon me. I hear the earth and her bones rumble with my magic. I hear the trees snap like mere twigs and the winds howl like a banshee around me. I hear the skies being split apart and lightning engulf me. And in that moment, when my magic mates with that of the Great Maker, I hear the chants of the village behind me….
“Hail, The Keeper of The Dead! The Necromancer of Nezgish!”
And I am at peace at last…
The above was the combined product of a dream I had once as a teenager, and a challenge given to me by a dear blogger friend of mine who told me that she couldn’t remember me ever writing something in the Fantasy genre. The truth is, while I may not write fantasy stories, I am a huge fan thereof. We’re talking about Wizards, Witches, Mages, Shamans, Werewolves, Vampires, Fae; Tolkein, Martin, Rowling, Pratchett! I had promised her I would take up the challenge. She had given me another challenge, which is what I will be working on next. Meanwhile, please write me your reviews in the comments section 😀 🙂
Thank you and Have a Great Weekend!
Copyright ©2017 by Pradita Kapahi.
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