It was the darkest of the dark night. A night, when only the most daring of men decide to venture out. Or may be the most desperate, who has no fear of death or one who seeks death as actively as one seeks happiness. A night of absolute silence, when even the leaves decide not to swish. Seemingly like a pause, just before the storm. Hunters refuse to hunt for their prey, and even the evil spirits don’t wander alone. A night, when moon hides behind the cloud, refuses to shine. A night of urgency. A night of terror. A powerful night. A night of dark thoughts….
On the darkest of darkest night
Scared moon refuses to shine
Every animal every bird bide their time
Waiting.. waiting for light
And I walk alone...
Conall was making sure that all he needed was already packed. He had been waiting for this day for sometime now. Waiting and preparing with absolute concentration, like everything else he does. Anwell and Alma, his wolf hounds, watched him with trepidation, their stance taut; their eyes pleading him to abandon his quest, to stay put. Conall didn’t notice . The clock struck 11:00 p.m. It was time. About time…..
He was willing to whatever it takes to get her back. Her.. Armelle… that snooty eyebrows, that sweet smile… that angelic face and that cold heart… the anger…. the humiliation… he will show them what he is.. he cannot hurt her directly… she is as powerful as he is… but he could hurt him…. hurt him bad.. and yeah then she will know! she will realize…. He started to walk faster. The dogs followed their master, even if their every instincts told them not to. They kept whining though as if trying to plead to return. to go back. There was no going back now… he plodded on and the hounds trailed behind.
Heaven tried to stop him…. gales of wind holding him back, rain lashed at him.. wanting him to stop.. so did the falling trees, the slashing lightening and the roaring thunder….But he won’t. He was deaf to every reason… he kept on going..Whatever it takes… he will see it through.
Winding through the treacherous bends, through the dark corners beneath the shrouds, he had finally reach his destination. An old abandoned grave yard where only the most proficient and powerful magicians dared to come. The old world magic that abounded in there was neither good nor bad. It was like nature both good and bad. If one didn’t know how to control.. it might back fire. His mentor had come there only once and that too as an audience. Every time he heard Kegan, the wise old man, talk about this graveyard there was this look of fear that attracted Conall. He knew it was his destiny to come here one day. He always knew that… But he didn’t know it would be so soon though.
On the treacherous bends
Amidst the crowd,
Beneath the shroud
Places where angels or demons tremble to descend,
Till the world’s end
For one moment the enormity of his actions made him stop. He wondered how Kegan would react. How would Armelle would react. Would she ever forgive him? He didn’t want any! He resolved. Stupid woman. Let her suffer!
He then started the ritual that would mark him forever. Slowly.. meticulously.. like the star student he was. He first invoked the sun then the moon… He appealed to the fire in the sun and the soothe in the moon.. he appealed to the wind.. the cloud to every element.. Earth water air and ether.. And then he cast his spell……
More powerful that the storm that was raging.. more powerful than the fire that quickly spread… The night was lost in blazes of red white and yellow…
Tears of sun,
Scorched, cheeks of earth;
Helpless he is. All these years roaming through the forest hiding away from everyone.. He had suffered thousand time over. He had wanted Art to suffer.. to writhe in pain.. he had never wanted him to die. His youthful foolishness….. the foolhardiness… He thought he was powerful enough…but what did he know that shadows of past would haunt him….. every moment. His only solace was somewhere in this world.. unaware…. but he couldn’t search for her… Wait.. interminable wait… that was his fate…
Are you as frantic as me or as alone?
Cold, cold i am ; cold as stone
Wandering through timelessness
Can you hear my clarion call?
My wounded heart’s squall ! I beseech you…
Only silence greeted him.. A silence within that reached without.. numbness seeped in.. he was slowly going insane.. Its been a long time since that day.. A very long time .. but time made no sense now.. just a wait.. from morning to night and night to morning….
” I am man after all! What was I supposed to do ?” He asked Kegan, his mentor, sure in the knowledge that he would be forgiven.
” But you are a wizard too. You have responsibilities”
“Responsibilities! Responsibilities! I am tired of them! I didn’t choose to be a wizard!”
” Fine then! Be a man! I take all your powers from you!” Kegan roared. His proud student needed a harsh lesson.
Stunned for a moment both kept silent for a long time.
Contrite for the first time, Conall asked ” Master? Such a huge punishment? I knew you will save him.. I just wanted him to suffer as I was suffering! You know me! Its not like I killed him!”
“But you have my child…” Kegan whispered into the darkened night. ” The force that you thought you can control killed him”
Conall then knew he had no redemption now. He was destined to haunt forever at the gate of forgiveness… and never get it. Even if his master forgave him… Armelle never would.. The only person he ever loved… They had grown together.. loving each other.. until Art came into their life… They had always known they are not soul mates.. so they knew they can never be together for long.. both had accepted it.. and yet when Art came… Armelle had left him like a hot potato.. He couldn’t understand why! It wasn’t like Art was her soulmate.. He wasn’t and yet she was ready to marry out of their race.. marry a commoner… forgoing him for that Man.. The jealousy that burned in his heart had now consumed him and Armelle.
“Oh how do I ask forgivance Master, When I cannot forgive myself ever!” Conall wailed.
Master could see that Conall had finally understood the gravity of his action. But words have strong power.. once said they can never be taken back. In his anger he had done a great mistake too. He knew what his punishment would be.. but with that action he can save Conall.. give him respite…..
Kegan said as if in a trance…
“Hear ye oh child so unblesst;
On the union of dawn and night
A damsel will relieve you of your plight
A mate for you will come one day
And yet she would be taken away
Banished unto forest you are
Until the time is for the final rest”
Saying this he was consumed by the fire… His master was no more…
Tears of sun indeed. But he had no consolation of tears… tears of blood scorched his heart.. yet none spilt through his eyes.. So he waited.. like a lone wolf…
Kegan had once said that ‘ Magic can cure.. indeed and yet it cannot change fate‘ She could never understand what it means. But now she did. And she knew she had taken the best decision even if it banished her to a life of loneliness. She had accepted her fate and created a life for herself.. She wondered sometimes.. what she would do if Conall ever come back in her life… She waited for anger.. for resentment.. it never came.. what came was pity.. he suffered more than he deserved. No one to console him.. and then to see master die in front of his very eye.. to save him from being damned.. a huge baggage of guilt it was.. knowing him.. she was sure he would be drowning under him… And yet other times she felt a weird kind of pleasure from it… Her dark side.. ofcourse… Those days she spent a lot of time in doing her rituals and spells. She needed positive gris-gris then. She was extra careful about what she said or did for she knew now.. how difficult it was to undo the wrongs.
She worked in an shady hotel as a bar tender…it was supposed to be the haunt of “Witches” not that she really noticed anyone to be that.. But in a country where witches were burnt alive.. it was not surprising… and yet she lived in hopes of finding someone to teach her magic… Magic… that always held her attention…
And one day she learned of a Magus who lives in the forest. He had a reputation of being insane. The villagers hated him though they didn’t know why.. He never left the forest… Nobody knew where he came from or when.. they only knew he haunted the Graveyards of Yore.. Many believed he had tried some magic which he couldn’t handle and now he himself was in the spell.. and driven mad by evil spirits. A cold tingle went down by her spine.. and with that a primitive recognition.. for which she had no name.. Cordelia decided to meet him… That Magus has to teach me magic.. I am tired of waiting.. she thought…
That weekend she left in search of the magi. Everyone that she met warned her not to. But still she did. It was late afternoon when she met him for the first time. He kept looking at her as if he was seeing an apparition. Disconcerted she didn’t know how to start. ” I want to learn magic from you” She blurted. This was not how she planned. She had heard that he doesn’t take students easily. She had planned to take it one step at a time.. and now she is ruined it…
” What else would you come here for?” he said. And then he started walking.. He expected her to follow. They were going deep into the forest. She was scared… but she persevered. And then they reached an ancient temple… She expected him to stop and explain her some dark ritual of initiation. He didn’t stop…
He could sense her curiosity her.. fear.. and yet.. he could sense that deep connection that only soulmates know.. And he had irrevocably fallen for her. Not with passion that can fade over the years, but with deep conviction.. like one loves oneself.. for indeed thats what she was.. a part of him.. that was long missing… and yet.. she was his redemption…. It was not in his power to let her know that.. she has to find it for herself and it was in her hands.. that his relief lay. All he could do was wait.. and guide as she finds her path through the path of magic.. she had a long way to go…. He cannot make it easy for her.. for he cannot fiddle with fate.. He knew that.. but he can tempt it.. Thats what he planned to do…
He didn’t speak a word. He knew he has to create an aura… Since he cannot do it by words.. he has to use silence.. As they walked through the forest she was utterly enchanted by the silence.. she heard the delicate swish of the leaf .. the move of the twig.. and she was intensely aware of the man.. with smokey gray eyes… sand peppery hair.. and yeah a flowing apparel that can only be said as ancient.. and yet the man was not the one whom you can disregard.. he was intensly alive yeah.. very male!
They were back to the same place from where they had started.. It was almost night.. the sun was setting and the moon was in the rise.. He said.. ” You have to be tested to be my student.”
Apprehensively, she asked” What am I to do?”
“Nothing serious. Sit here in silence until I come back”
Relieved she said yes. Soon it was dark. A night in the forest was the last thing on her mind… Initially it was fun.. the birds twittered the squirrel ran about.. and then as the night deepened she heard strange noise.. weird ones… scary ones.. soon she prayed that the magi return… But he didn’t..
She realized that he had played a cruel joke on her. She didnt know what to do… she didnt know the way back.. Also, she was not confident enough to venture into the dark.. here atleast the moon shone steadily..
Darkness has a special way of inducing self introspection isn’t it ? It makes you search within for the hidden unacknowledged fears.. magnifies is thousand folds. until even a tiny sound.. real or imagined seems like a threat… And one such night.. faith is the ship on which you sail… It was the first lesson she had to learn.. and learn she did the hard way.. by the time it was morning she had slept off.. Never had she felt so refreshed and yes now she knew that this was the lesson he was to teach her.. She thanked him in her mind and left…
For long she didn’t know what to do.. and one day she received a letter… It was from him.. it contained an address.. It was Armelle’s
Armelle was shocked to see a 20 year old girl at her footstep with a slip of paper holding his handwriting.. Conall’s . No one came to her anymore. She was in her late 50’s, lived a quiet life. What did he want now.. she wondered.. and who is this girl that he sent.. how did they meet? Whats the connection? Thousand questions were on her mind.. and yet not one showed on her face. Not even surprise. Long practice in controlling her emotions achieved that. She would know eventually what it is about…
Over a long chat with ample tea… and scones which Cordelia devoured.. she had never tasted any better…she revealed her quest.. Armelle realized that Conall wanted her to teach this girl.. A part of her still wanted to deny his salvation.. but only for a moment. She agreed to teach her….
He realized that he was nervous . Very scared. If it wasn’t for Cordelia’s initiation he wouldn’t have ever come. And besides it was his salvation night. He dressed with care that night. Soon it was time to go.
Armelle knew how to organize a party.. By the time he reached there, the party was in full swing.. and Cordelia very nervous. He soon reached her to allay her fears when he met Armelle. It took all his courage to meet Armelle’s eyes. But he did.. and all he saw was compassion and forgivance. He knew he would never have asked for it and yet it was given as a gift.. He was so overwhemled that he hugged her. And in that hug, all his guilt was washed away…
And then the ritual begun… The new witches wen through all the steps under guidance of Armelle. She had grown into a powerful witch. And she was still beautiful. Strange isn’t it! Beauty that is nurtured with happiness fades soon and yet the one matured in pain shines like the pure gold after treatment of fire…
It was the moment he dreaded and yet he knew it was inevitable. Cordelia had to realize now that he was her soulmate and give him his powers back… He could see that Cordelia was avoiding him now.. He wondered what thoughts were churning in her mind.. He knew that in the passage of nothingness she would have met his Master. He wondered what he would have told her. If she would know the whole story.. if she would forgive him…
Cordelia knew about the strong attraction she felt for 2 men in her life.. Braydon and her magi. She felt deeply for both of them. And Kegan, the wise old man from the passage of nothingess had said that her answer holds the key to Conall’s salvation. She had asked what salvation but he refused to reply… his only advice was.. listen to your heart….
After a prolonged thought she decided she needed more information. She asked Armelle. But mysteriously Armelle said.. ‘ A the power play of fate. What can I say to help you my dear ?’ ‘ the history is in you.. this story is yours.. all you have to do is search within you. I cannot help you with this’
Saying that she got busy with her hostess duty. All of them were leaving. The party was over. The new witches had 1 week to complete their task. But somehow Cordelia felt as if she had to finish it tonight. Her instincts told her. And she was taught to listen to her instincts.
Having no help from Armelle.. she approached Conall.
” For my passage rite, I have a decision to make. As you are well aware I guess.. its about you..” “I know it would be hard for you to help me.. but I want you to help me out as a friend”
“This is the hardest thing you have asked of me.”
” I know”
” No you dont! for you don’t understand. Giving you the right advice mean to push myself in an abyss and yet.. I cannot damn you to the same fate.”
“I know not what you mean by that. I know not if this is right.. But for the magi who taught to to have faith.. and for the man I am in love.. I chose to give you salvation.. for you have given me that.. on that dark night in the forest”
Something within her willed her to say that.. She was not consciously aware of saying it but when she did.. she knew it was the right thing.. and yet Conall was stunned. It was not happiness there neither sadness.. Somehow a mixture of both. She knew then.. it was her instinct that said it. She has to learn to trust it.
“Congratulations!” Armelle said as she hugged her. ” You have taken the right decision.”
” And yet that would mean you have to go away from me” Conall said, half dejectedly.. for he knew the prophesy was true.. his soulmate was not to be his. for she had taken the right decision without realizing he was her soulmate..
“What do you mean ?” cordelia asked totally lost.
“Ah nothing dear. He is in shock. He is your master. I taught you magic yes.. but he is your master.Only he couldnt coz he didnt have the magic”
“But.. I want the whole story”
” You will dear . But today.. go with your young man and rejoice”
“but…” said Conall.
“I see insubordination is still high on your list” Armelle said sternly.
Cordelia was shocked to see Conall take it silently. He had learnt his lesson.
They then talked about routine stuff. Soon enough Braydon asked her to return. They were the last to leave.
Conall and Armelle watched them leave hand in hand….
“I guess old age won’t be so lonely anymore” Armelle said smiling onto him.
Conall smiled back” not anymore”