Monday, 5 January 2015

The Phantom Queen

L: The Morrigan, Anon                     R: The Morrigan, Craig Yeung

Yesterday was a bloody brilliant day for writing. 

I managed almost 4,000 words, crossed the 45,000 threshold (that's 5k added in three days) and made it to 100 pages.

A very good day indeed.

One of the most interesting points has been the introduction of an iconic mythological figure, The Phantom Queen, or Great Queen. It is always tricky when writing characters that already have such standing in cultural history. You can only give your own interpretation and hope that it strikes a chord.

Rough and ready as always.

I slipped past the sleeping guards and made my way down the hill, past the crannog and across the grasslands to Anamcha’s tree. I followed the trail to Bear Rock and down from there to the Black Vale. The Widow’s Cave was a large hole, high up in the rocks above a sacred spring. There was a rowan tree beside the spring, its branched drooped with the weight of rags and necklaces tied about it. Some of the jewels were expensive, though not a soul would think to steal them. Beneath the surface of the water, the mud shimmered silver with coins.

The light of the moon was so bright that I had not brought a torch, yet as I approached the foot of the climb, the shadow of the cliff blotted out the light and I found it hard to see. At first I thought midges were rising from the soft soil beside the spring. I tried to swipe them away with my hand, but there were more than I could count. 

My skin prickled as the hairs on my arm rose. The air was much cooler all of a sudden. As I pulled my cloak tighter about me, I realised it was snowing. The flies I has been trying to brush away were snowflakes. Confused, I looked behind, out across the valley. It was covered in a fine dusting of snow, the stream below frosted over like a seam of quartz.

For a moment I was too afraid to move. I clung to the side of the cliff, unable to trust my own eyes. I heard a crow cry. Looking up, I saw a dim glow from the entrance to the cave. 

When I reached there, a large fire burned brightly in the centre, sparks showering up towards the ceiling each time the wood shifted. It took my eyes a moment to adjust. As they did, I realised the walls of the cave were home to a hundred black birds, their beady eyes watching me, their shiny talons gripping the rock as though they had grown out of it.

I was afraid then. What had possessed me to come to this place of magic alone at night? Was anything worth the danger it posed?

A gust of wind rose beyond the mouth of the cave, howling across its jagged surface and catching at the edge of my cloak. I took another step inside, closer to the fire. Its light seemed the only safety.

“Hello?” I called, my voice swallowed in that great cavern. 

Only crows answered.

Before my eyes the flames began to burn blue, casting eerie shadows across the walls. The crows’ beaks snapped as they spread their wings and took flight. My vision was blinded by a thousand beating wings, a shower of feathers and sparks swirled about me.

Crouching to the ground, I pulled my cloak over my head and cowered there until silence fell.

When I looked up, a woman stood before me, unlike any woman I had seen before.

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