Phantammeron book one, p.12
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       Phantammeron Book One, p.12

           Mitchell Stokely
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  Agapor lay dying in the midst of the tangled thickets beneath the hill. His mind began to fade as he thought upon all that had come to pass. But he smiled knowing his daughter’s wish was fulfilled, and that her sacrifice for Phantaia would not be in vain. He gazed upon the wondrous light of the new tree as it stretched its white limbs high overhead. And he marveled at the odd changes taking place around him in Abrea. For the plants and trees, like their father, began to grow again.

  But the manacles that were once his to command now were gone. And the dark ring that lay on his hand was lost. Yet, the servant of darkness was no more. And the dark trees of the Connewe had fled away, back to the darkest corners of Avaras. Powerless, Agapor was free. But the storms of Yana had raged on around him. The Magra had now begun to seethe and boil with malice, seeing its enslaver near death.

  The great storm of Yana began to turn again in the skies, until she spun about in the Heavens overhead, peering down with her evil eye upon Abrea. Her cold winds blew down upon the hill, buffeting the limbs of the great tree. And she cast her evil shadow of death upon it, as her great mouth drew nearer to the summit. The silver leaves of the shining tree were then stripped from its boughs and sucked into her wide maw. Yana then began to slowly pull the shining tree from his rocky firmament as it had done before.

  But the Magra soon cast her eye upon the vulnerable pool, its waters like a tempting wine now hers alone to drink. Her cyclonic cloud then dipped down its wide mouth onto the hill, sucking up the magical waters of the pool into her great gullet. And deep she drank from its cup.

  But the Sacred Waters were not of this world. For they were created by a force and intellect beyond her own, a power unyielding, never-ending, and relentless. For nothing that dared harm them could ever escape their wrath. For those wild waters would fill the world if they could, against the forces of evil and good, light and dark, which might unite to destroy them.

  As Yana drew forth the Sacred Waters, her belly filled with its fateful essence until it became bloated and full. She then burst forth in the Heavens like a great rainstorm. The cursed waters of the pool had consumed her, the imperishable one, as the Dreaming Seas had once done to her sisters. The thunderheads which had stretched out across the sky now imploded, bursting forth with violence across the Heavens.

  Long gray rainclouds stretched their strata across the skies in great streams, pouring down the life-giving rains of the Sacred Waters into the forest. With her death, the evil Magra had released the sweet waters of that enchanted pool back into Phantaia’s living earth. And so was her secret labor in that world now complete. And those which she had selfishly taken—the innocent spirits of the forest—were given back again, their seeds released into the ripe earth, fed by her rains, and then sprouting as new plants and trees within the boundless woodlands of Phantaia.

  And the oaks and the yews, and the gentle ash, and the mighty rowans were all renewed by her storms, their spirits returning to the loving forms they once knew. Phantaia, rejuvenated by both light and water, grew with great vigor again, its wild wilderness alive and fresh in the blissful dews of its triumphant rebirth. And so ended Yana, greatest servant of the Emptiness, she who had perished by her own foolish avarice and thirst.

  But with the sundering of Yana’s spirit from her form, there was released from her womb a thousand stormy children, each bound to their mother’s ancient design. These storms then fled away upon chariots of thunder and lightning, riding the bands of wind and rain beyond Phantaia’s timeless shores.

  Seeing the annihilation of their mother, they had fled away in fear, back into Oblivion and the Great Beyond. Others escaped into the underworld, hiding in deep holds and catacombs, cowering within the shadowy rocks and cliffs beneath Phantaia. But some of Yana’s spawn still hung upon the fringes of Phantaia as their mother had done, forming great thunderheads in the Heavens, tearing away at her cliffs, and assaulting the remnant oaks that still clung to the earth of darkest Avaras.

  Others simply remained in the skies over Phantaia as storms, boiling with clouds of gray just beyond the horizon, ever-threatening the woods with their bright bolts of lightning, sending down their sheets of rain and hail, and harrowing the tops of the trees with their ceaseless gales and cyclones. For those bestial storms, ever after, would seek to avenge their mother’s cruel death. But long would they wait for that time to come, if ever it would again, when the tree should wither and its light fade. Then would they return, seeking to finish that which their mother had not.

  The blazing light of the One Tree had burned fiercely, like a mighty star, ablaze with the twinkling lights of a great golden sun. With the One Tree’s light renewed, the shadows and the evil that had come to destroy it had fled away, into the pits and hollows of the earth, the woods, and the skies. And so had the reunion of pool and tree, water and light, justice and goodness in Phantaia brought down its full vengeance against the powers of darkness and destruction.

  The Chieftain Trees and Maiden Trees, near death, grew forth in even greater glory than they had known before. As their beautiful spirits returned to their bodies, they then turned their thick trunks to look upon the wondrous new tree and its magnificent lights. For it had christened them with its love and compassion again. The gardens about Abrea now grew forth with even greater beauty, unfolding new leaves, buds, and blossoms.

  But the Murgala that had wrapped themselves about Abrea had been burned savagely by that light. And so had they slithered away, hiding their diminished kind within the valley below. Only in its deepest glades were the shadows dark enough to hide them and covet them away, until they could entangle the young, the naive, and the innocent again.

  But the blazing glory of the One Tree was short-lived. For though it had been reborn, brighter than before, so had the color and glamour of its candle begun to change and transform, fading quickly into the colors of twilight time. No longer did it bear a golden hue, but was now fast bound to gold and silver lights intermingled. The bright sun of the One Tree’s burning spectrum had now dimmed to a more subtle shade.

  With the return of the Sacred Waters to the enchanted pool, the ruddy light of the One Tree had been cast away. For that pool had now stained it with the phantasmal shade of its own twilight. Therein were light and darkness equally contained. And so was the tree renewed again in this world, yet forever bound in equal proportion to dusk and dawn, cursed and blessed by the somber light of eternal evening.

  The One Tree and the Sacred Pool had thus come together to cast a mighty twilight glow over all the world. Phantaia had truly become a Forest of Twilight, embracing the darker dreams of sleepy mists, half-awake, half-alive, yet bathed in its own shadows. Dark purples and rich lavenders now painted its greener woods in their haunted shade. And it would be, forever after, cursed with that phantom glow, guarding its light yet worshipping the night, trapped in a world between two worlds now tainted and forever stained.

  The leaves of Phantaia’s living trees would still sparkle and glow with deep greens and warm silvers. But its glistening trunks and slippery boughs would cast forth a pale violet color upon their bark, still bathed in the dew of its own strange haunting mists. Yet the Gardens of Abrea still glowed with rich color. For its secret spirit had somehow survived, bearing within itself the remnants of that golden light of old. For the Sacred Light within the grave of Phanduan still cast its warmth upon it and the valley below. Yet it was no longer bound to the One Tree as before. And this strange truth would await those who dare awaken its sleeping spirit in future days.

  The Sacred Waters of the pool were now released into Phantaia, flowing down and around its warm green mound. In those waters was now held the hope of new life—the loving children that had been promised Phantaia by its Creator long ago. For that twilight well had been made for the children of the world so they might live there in peace. With the promise of providence and paradise it now bore, and the undying nature of its secret purpose, was it so named the Pool of Ete

  The pool’s shining waters had flowed forth and overrun the earthen cup that had held them. Spilling down in a great torrent, the Gardens of Abrea now burst forth with new life and new bounty. Glorianna’s green growth blossomed forth in great abundance, as the rich grasses of Annafar and Aron danced once more in the winds. And so had the Sacred Waters blessed that land, as the One Tree shined forth its lavender lights, casting aglow the resplendent gardens that now grew at its feet. Yet would Unaranna, the loving glades of Ama, remain coldly silent.

  Deep within the tomb of the hill, Ana now slept. But the spirit of the Rock Eternal had appeared beside her bed. As he looked with merciful eyes upon the sleeping beauty, his manly form held her hand in his, saying to her as she slept, “Ana, your gift to us shall be forever cherished and long remembered. But from this sleep divine you shall never awaken. As your mother is bound to the seas, are you pledged to the fate of the forest. For you alone now sustain the One Tree and these lands with your undying waters, and shall do so until the end of the world.” And a tear fell from his eyes.

  But Ana in dreams heard her visitor’s voice. And she spoke to him through her visions, whispering into his mind, “Spirit of the Earth, I have but one wish. I desire to walk again in the beautiful Gardens of Abrea, taking flesh to dwell beside my young children until such time as they no longer need me. For I long to see them, to love them, and to be with them.”

  The Rock Eternal looked with gentle eyes upon the sleeping Ana, saying, “This one desire I shall grant you.” His form then departed from her bedside. But in truth the Rock Eternal would never leave her. For his earthly spirit would ever after sleep beside the lonely lady of the pool, watching over her spirit within the hallowed halls of the earth of Phantaia, which he alone commanded.
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