Dark Solitude

By Sue Simpson

The bruised and swollen storm clouds had been rolling along the horizon, battling for position as they gathered for celestial war. She cupped her eyes with a slender hand and gazed towards the turbulent sky. This was the pre-cursor to anarchy of the heavens. She knew that this was the herald of a storm of storms. The bluster of the elements had ravaged her mind for so long now, that she was having to search deeply within the caverns of her memory to envision a time when it had not been so. The cacophonous howl of the angry wind was as vital to her as the blood coursing through her veins, as essential as the oxygen she drew into her lungs, as precious a life force as the heart that beat wildly within her breast. The wind both tormenter and friend, the blessed vigilante, who washes her soul of impurity. Sheets of rain are pelting her face. The intrusive icicle fingers raking their nails through her cheeks. It is cold, it stings her, but she feels no urge to escape the needles of pain...hadn't she wanted this? Hadn't she needed to feel this agony? Only now did she feel alive, only now was she aware of the need to breathe. Now while at the mercy of the cleansing elements, the suffocating oppression and stifling desire to break away had become a symphony of voices, a four part harmony telling her to pull free of the manacles which bound her soul to this time and place. She knew this freedom was to be brief and that she must soon return, to withdraw and retreat to the darkness and security of the place that was her sanctuary. Wasn't it she, The Dark Sorceress, daughter of Seliska, the mistress of Luskaal who after years of barren desolation had braved the cold and hostile world above? Left the solitude of her cave and sloughed the cramps of hibernation and withdrawal so that she could once again feel the breath of life upon her pallid skin?

Now after such a brief time above, striving so hard to gain the acceptance of and live in harmony with the surface dwellers, she realized that she did not belong here. How she yearned to walk again in the golden hills of Luskaal, but she knew that before this day had set...she would return to her lair to sleep the sleep of a thousand moons before waking refreshed to a world that may have a place for her.3

The Hell Cat moved within the circle to rejoice in the apex of the storm. She moved with stealth, a stalking feline grace of movement, her almond green eyes watchful, flashing with a fierce intensity. Aware of every blade of grass that limboed erratically. At the center of the circle she stopped. Her eyes scanned the territory she had claimed as her own and secure in the knowledge that she was alone, she arched her back, succumbing again to her feline nature, and then she rose like a phoenix from the ashes casting the husk of the hell cat, tall and proud. The animal skins that she wore for comfort in the cave sloughed and she stood amongst the tall druid stones, resplendent in the robes of her ancestors. She wore a gown of purple brocade, bejeweled and trimmed with gold. This was topped with a floor length hooded black cape. Her breasts heaved from the bodice of the robe as the excitement she felt from the storm raged within and around her. With ragged breath and arms outstretched she flung back her head, and the hood fell away. She looked to the glistening light of the swollen moon and moaned her acceptance of the storm's possession.

Her hair, long as her torso and black as a ravens eye, falls tumultuously down her back. Only to be taken by the rough caress of the wind, and thrown about her head in a halo of Medusa like tendrils. The fingers of the wind, as persuasive as a lover's yet with the harshness of a demon, massage her skull, her neck, her throat. Throwing her hair out brutally to let it fall softly again at its rest. The wind plucks at her breast thrusting its force through her bodice to cup her heart in its powerful grasp, stimulating her senses until the surge of power can no longer be contained within her. She opens her mouth with a harsh gasp and delights in the deluge of stinging pelts of rain that flow from her full and swollen lips, filling her mouth with the sweet ice cold water. She swallows and the fluid slides like mercury down her parched throat.

She feels the magma erupting from the fire within her as the storm rapes the tainted breath from her body, savaging the filth of the past, purging her soul of all its evil. Leaving only the dark force of her brooding manic nature. She washes in the wind and stands erect, all power infused from the storm. She is ready, fire of the warrior blazing within her. She steals herself for the final onslaught.

The clouds burst, torn savagely open from within, as the forked tongue of the reptilian lightning darts forth to taste the Dark Lady. Only to be deflected from her by the guardian petrified within the stone. Again the tongue slithers sibilantly from within the dense folds of the mouth of the cloud. And again it hisses in defiance and crackles with rage as it falls but a few feet short of its temptress.

Where as it should of exploded through the breastbone and into the heart of the Lady, it met instead the cold slate of the Leader Stone. As the lightening smashed crudely into the great Druid plinth the pungent aroma of sulfur is emitted within a swirling yellow mist which circles ethereally towards the dark lady. The lightening recoils, rumbling in impotent defeat, and retreats petulantly back from whence it came, beaten and demeaned by the maniacal high laughter of the Dark Sorceress.

With this last ritualistic Windwash, and the abatement of the Storm, The Sorceress felt the flowing tide of sadness come upon her. No more could she strive to conform to the boundaries and restrictions that the mortals imposed upon her. She could not fall within the confines of their acceptance. She was of another kind, forced into a subterranean existence, hiding from the surface dwellers, who so yearned for and yet feared her magic.

She could never be one with them, saddened by the brutalities of the past and resigned to the rejections of the future that she knew would one day come. Her disposition towards revealing too much of herself forced her to shy away, melting into the embrace of solitude. She had no need of others. . And yet there were those whom she had come to care for and she would always remember the warmth of their friendship. This would sustain her during the bitter cold days and nights when the probing breath of winter pierced the walls of her cave. Still as much as she longed to have the company of those few surface folk, it could never be enough. The signs were there. She smelled their fear and while they said they cared for her their eyes were turning over the soil at her feet not bearing to see their renouncement of her in those iced green eyes. The witch hunt was assembling. Soon they would amass to bring her down, fueled by their fear of her differences to them.

She could see them as clearly as she could see the morning sun in her memory. She knew that soon the reptilian clouds and the mortals would devour her and take away her spirit. No. Better to spend her days in the company of solitude than to relinquish the one thing that she could truly call her own...her soul.

So after taking her final Windwash and purging herself of the hurt and rejection that so often plagues her, she turned her back on this world and walked quietly back through the mist to the entrance of her cave. Just as slowly she turned her head, enough to take one last glance at the life she was retreating from. Sadness and yet relief filled her heart. For if she was not there, then rejection could no more reach out its vicious fist to beat her.

The Dark Sorceress bent her head to enter the gaping arch of the stone entrance. And through the swirling mists of time she...disappeared.