The prompt at Search Engine Stories this week is drawn by the sea.
I’ve gone all fantasy fiction and Celtic on this one.
Here it is…..
He was wrong from the start. We all knew it. It was the different coloured eyes, one green, one blue and the inscrutable expression he always wore. The witch elders said he was marked, they had seen ravens flying backwards on the morning of his birth.
They called him Weylin, which in the old tongue means son of the wolf. The elders believed he actually had been born of a wolf, a demon-child. His father, Oryx, was one of the most powerful wizards in the land. No one knew what had become of his mother.
No matter how quiet I was Weylin knew when I approached. He laughed softly in a taunting singsong. ‘I can hear you, Gilda,’ he smirked. ‘Your tread is as heavy as an ox.’
Sometimes I would hide in the thick bracken that lined the hills and watch him, holding my breath so he could not find me, but he would hear even the blinking of my eyes from almost half a mile away and his entire upper body would snap round, poised for attack like a warrior on the watch.
Once I saw him eating a bluebird he had plucked from a tree, spitting the sweet blue feathers on the ground, eating the flesh raw. The sight made me shake as if I had been seized by a fever. I showed the feathers to Mara, one of the elders and she grew angrier than I had ever seen her.
‘That boy needs sorting,’ she said. She complained to Oryx and his voice bellowed out across the hills. ‘Keep your nose out of my business, you interfering old hag.’ A wind rose, making Mara stagger backwards, but she wasn’t afraid. She was a witch of considerable power. She flicked her hand and Oryx clutched at his chest. ‘Choose your enemies wisely,’ she muttered as she left.
The next morning Mara’s entire field of sunflowers had wilted. It was the saddest sight I have ever seen – those glorious yellow faces dragging in the dirt.
Our hands flew to our mouths in shock – Mara’s sunflowers were prized throughout the land. It was two weeks away from harvest. ‘Who could have done this?’ we cried. Mara pointed to markings in the dirt, definite and firm, the print of a wolf. There were whispers in the dark that Weylin had the feet of a wolf although no one had seen them to be sure – he kept them carefully bound in leather boots.
‘I will crush him,’ Mara vowed.
She had no time to seek vengeance immediately. She was planning a wedding. It was for her granddaughter, Shene, her pride and joy. Shene was marrying Ulric, the son of a great wizard from the next village. There was much rejoicing over it.
As the weeks passed and the day of the wedding grew nigh, I almost forgot Mara’s vow. Weylin was quieter than usual, keeping to himself, although one night I saw him standing bare-chested under the moon. His skin glimmering as if coated in silver paint.
The day of Shene and Ulric’s wedding turned out to be the blackest of days. That morning we all arrived at Mara’s house to dress Shene’s hair but she was not in her room. The room was in disarray. It looked like there had been a struggle and that someone had been dragged out the door and into the garden.
We found Shene in the barn. Moaning, incoherent, her nightdress stained with blood. There were footprints on the dusty floor. The marks of a wolf.
Mara’s face was on fire. ‘O, great sky, give me strength against this defiler.’ She was on her knees, tugging at her hair when the sky began to glower. Bitter clouds thrust themselves in the direction of Weylin’s house. Rain and wind pelted the roof. Storms and chaos. The house began to shudder.
When the storm abated we found Oryx half dead among the rubble. Weylin was nowhere to be found. The elders organised a hunt that lasted for three days and three nights and found him cowering in a shepherd’s hut in the hills, the blood of a freshly slaughtered lamb on his hands.
‘I shall have my vengeance,’ Mara screamed. ‘Death by sea. The wolf fears the sea.’
Weylin was dragged to the shore. The closer we got to the water, the more his screams resembled howls.
A box stood on the sand. The entire length of a man. Made entirely of glass. ‘So he can see what he’s lost,’ Mara said.
Weylin was placed inside. The box was sealed shut. He was taken out by boat into the black, cold water and thrown down, down, into the deep sea.
I still think of his face and clutch at my chest. The panic and anguish etched there as if by the hand of a painter. His knuckles already bloody from scrambling at the glass lid.
It wasn’t exactly death by sea. One of our kind cannot die by drowning or hunger or thirst. The power prevents it. Weylin could live for years in his glass box. But he can never escape for Mara has bound the lid of his tomb with enchantment.
Every night I stand on the shore, drawn by the sea. I scan the horizon for hours for the briefest sighting of moonlight on glass. Sometimes the waves rise like trees and I imagine I see it, the glass in the dark. Still out there somewhere.
I wonder if punishing one evil act with another is the way to find peace. My heart is sorrowful for a boy who was really a wolf cast out to sea, unanchored, breathing nothing but his fear. I dare not say I hope for his rescue but in my heart I wish it. It is hard to think of anyone enduring a fate more cold than death.