E. Paige Burks
The Story of Gladianima (Part VI)
Updated: Jun 16, 2020
The first day of winter, the 236th year Post-Priorae.
“The winds seem particularly cold this year. I can’t put my finger on it, but there is a chill in the air that lingers long after the gale stops howling. I can feel it stirring something in my bones.
I’ve decided to keep this record, as my mind seems to slip more as time goes by…It has been more than two hundred years since I saw the last of them, but even now I still feel as if there is something watching me. I ventured beyond the manor walls yesterday to hunt with my brothers. We picked up the trail of game and soon became separated chasing it through the brush. Somehow, I ended up alone, creeping upon a clearing that I failed to recognize. I hunt these woods often with my kin, so this left me feeling out of sorts. It was the first time I felt the chill.
The clearing was not what I expected. It was empty of the snows that should have been knee-deep, and the sun was shining down through the branches. Strange flowers were blooming as if it was a spring day, the scent of Mother’s bathing salts and spices filling the air. I was lured into the clearing, dumbstruck by the sight of it. I couldn’t make sense of what I was seeing, but then I realized I was being watched. I knew I should have been fearful, but I couldn’t feel anything as glittering eyes peered at me beyond the stretch of the trees. I could see the length of a figure moving silently in the shadows, a feat that seemed impossible, if my eyes weren’t deceiving me.
I thought perhaps I was dreaming. I was merely a young child when my father and my mother raised the last of the monokeros for the Monarchy. I don’t remember much of the collapse, except that one day our stables were full, and the next the beasts were gone, along with the powerful magic that the Priorae brought to our world. My parents referred to it as the Collapse. I was too young to comprehend what was happening, but it amounted to mass genocide, which I learned when I was older. I don’t know why I’m including this, as these words may never be seen by any eyes other than my own, but I have to assure myself that I’m not mad. What I saw was real.
The creature never stepped from the shadows, but I felt it watching me as I fled the clearing to find my brothers. Even now, inside the walls of our home, I can feel its presence. It isn’t oppressive, per se, but it is invasive in a way I’m not familiar with. As if something is tickling the corners of my mind, asking to be let in and privy to my thoughts. I don’t understand how this can be. I know this is why I must keep this record. I must document my descent into insanity, or whatever this may be.
The feeling has persisted and feels as if it will only worsen as time passes.
The fourth day of winter, the 236th year Post-Priorae.
The watching persists. I feel it as a buzz pressing against my skull like the humming of bees inside a nest. I dream of eyes, watching me, following my every movement, begging to see to my thoughts. I don’t know how much longer I can resist whatever this call is.
My brothers think I am gripped with madness, confining me to my room and my books. They’ve sent for a mage, but there is nothing that can be done now. I know that the only way to stop this is to submit to it. But I can’t know if that is what I should do. Should I allow this invading force into my being?
It tries to tell me to accept it, that it means no harm. But how can I know that when this foreign presence refuses to reveal itself to me?
It tells me that I cannot experience its glory until I accept it into myself. As if it is a bogeyman that cannot have life until I believe it exists.
I don’t know how long I can fight against it. I don’t know why it has chosen me. I feel there is a purpose it has in mind for me, and I am afraid.
It is dark out, and the darkness presses upon my mind like a sucking void, trying to consume me. I can feel it now, so close to its goal. My hands tremble as I write this and sweat drips from my brow with my effort to remain strong.
I can hear a whisper in my mind, telling me everything will be fine. I only need to accept it. It doesn’t desire to consume me, but I can’t…
The voice grows increasingly louder, clearer with each pleading request. It sounds like the waves on the lake in the summer time…the smell of salts and spices fills my nostrils now. It has finally come. I can see it now, its eyes shining brightly in the darkness. I feel no fear now. I understand why it has come. I understand why it needs me. Yes, please come in. Join me."