Lonely Roads of Galdenya: ch1

By Aarron Mondello

PENNED BY THE HAND OF FREGOR LANDSON, WANDERING SCRIBE AND POET.

I have spent a good portion of my many years traversing the back and forgotten roads of Galdenya, away from the cities of man.

A long and tiresome journey it has been yet I have relished in the discovery of it.

From the edge of The Frozen Wastes in the south and into the trees that make the beginning of the Taltyri Forrest many months travel to the north. Around to the Great Ocean in the east and through to the Mountains of La’Tail in the west, that no man in recorded history has seen beyond.

Many times I have made this journey via differing paths and routes and I would not be at all surprised to find that I have seen more of my beloved Galdenya than any who came before me.

I was much surprised to find, during my last visit to the Frozen Waste that there was water lapping the white shores proceeding the ice. Indeed, it appeared as though the ice is, for the first time in living memory, thawing. Though I could still see the blue expanse of it beginning a bare stones throw away from where I stood. But that is not a tale for the here and now.

Here in these pages I will attempt to organise and arrange my findings and adventures as I travelled the Lonely Roads of Galdenya.

 

FIRST STEPS

I was born to a small farming family just about two hours walk to the east of Galdawn, the shining sun of Galdenya and capital of the land.

From a young age I was “taken by flights of fancy and had not a head for the land”, as my da was fond of saying.

He loved me dearly, as did mama, but I was not built for farm life and caused them plenty of grief with my imaginative ways.

So much so that when came my 14th birthday and I announced to them, my two sisters and my four brothers that I wished to seek apprenticeship with the librarians in Galdawn they heartily agreed that would be for the best.

A week later came the day I would make the trip to the city and beg my place amongst the apprentices.

There were tears from mama, firm handshakes from da and my brothers and teasing from my sisters who believed I would return in less than a month with my tail between my legs.

They were very wrong.

I spent the customary three day period begging the Masters of Lore to allow me to join their ranks as apprentice.

On the third evening, as night fell, so too did my final hope. I would have to try again next year, but unless some accident or ill fortune culled the apprentices, I would not be accepted then either.

The sun was just a golden line above the horizon, the masters and Beggars alike had all left save for me. I stayed in the street on my knees and cursed my bad luck.

With barely a half of an hour  remaining before night fell and my time was up I became aware of a presence standing behind me.

I turned and was surprised to see an old man bent heavily over a walking cane with wisps of white hair clinging to his scalp. The real surprise was the silver chain around his neck with a thin thread of gold running up to his earlobe and joining a crystal stud pierced there.

This proclaimed him a Lore Master, but the poor cut of his white robes showed he did not fair well in his trade.

I began to stand, already deciding I would prefer the life of a farmer over serving a failed master in his dotage.

“Kneel boy!” he snapped in a tone that commanded obedience at once and I fell heavily back to my knees.

I stared up at him and he smiled down at me.

“Much better,” his voice had softened to something much more kindly. “What do you Beg here?”

“A-a-apprenticeship, Master,” I stammered, “with the the Lore Masters, the librarians.”

“Very well, apprenticeship you shall have. And your first task will be to help me home. My body tires and I’m not entirely certain I can make it unaided. Indeed, I almost missed the Begging due to this old body.”

“Forgive me master, but I wish apprenticeship with the libraries.”

“And so you shall have it, if you quit your prattling and follow, though maybe not in the library you choose.”

And with that he turned away and began to hobble up the road.

I stayed where I was, stunned and unsure what to do.

He made no more than a dozen steps when he tottered and fell hard on his bottom.

I leaped up and ran to him. He was laughing quietly when I reached him.

“There see, I knew you would listen, though slow to start. We’ll get that out of you yet,” he chuckled as I helped him to his feet.

There followed the longest walk I ever had. It felt longer even than all the miles I traversed alone through Galdenya in following years.

We made our way slowly through the streets of Galdawn. Fast emptying now the sun had set on the city. Which was to my liking. Helping the old man was a task in itself, crowds would only make it worse jostling us about as they no doubt would.

After more than an hour of frequent stops to let him rest and more than one occasion of him losing his balance and nearly falling we came finally to a large building of white marble. Unadorned in any way save for the great bronze door carved to look like a book and fashioned so expertly that when opened it appeared as though a large book was indeed being opened for a giant to read.

This I knew, by descriptions I had heard, was the Royal Library. The place where all matters pertaining to the royal bloodline were stored.

I feared the sanity of the old man was gone and opened my mouth to speak. Before I could the door was flung open and tall, stern faced woman came striding out.

Her dark hair hung loose about her shoulders and bobbed with each step. She stopped before the bent old man and inclined her head. He bowed as deeply as he could manage and then scowled at me when I didn’t follow his example.

Too late I noticed the royal crown embroidered down her sleeves and across the collar of her extravagant cold and blue gown.

“Master Gayle,” she spoke in a voice accustomed to command. “The hour is late and long have I waited here for your return.” She raised an eyebrow at me and I hastily fetched a bow, remaining bent in the hopes of undoing any offence I had caused.

“You highness, my queen, had I known you sought me I would have left a message. But as today was the last day of the Begging I had need to be in the city. My services are now at your disposal, highness.” Master Gayle spoke in a way that suggested he was familiar with the queen and she with him.

“Nay, I have found what I sought. I am glad to see you are unharmed, friend.”

“Unharmed save for the ravages of time, my lady,” Master Gayle chuckled, “and with an apprentice to boot!”

I felt the queen turn her gaze on me and quailed under her scrutiny.

“That is well, and past time. You do not grow younger Gayle,”

To my surprise she bent then and kissed the old man on his wrinkled forehead before sweeping past us followed by guards I had not noticed as they stood within library’s vast door.

Master Gayle turned to me and smiled, “Come lad. We shall get acquainted, you and I,” and he shuffled unaided into the cool interior of the Royal Library.

Here I shall skip many months that remain vivid in my memory and heart, though they do not bare over much on the tale of my travels. It was one full year and a half that I served under Master Gayle in the Royal Library, and many strange tales I read there.

Tales of creation and the Vor’Dalee, that fabled race who held the favour of the gods and yet were, in the end, spurned by them.

The tale of the Upstart Prince who murdered his father to claim a throne and then one day inexplicably denounced his claim and fled the kingdom. That one, according to dates, happened not many years before my birth and is a true accounting that I will not tell in full here. And many more besides.

Master Gayle and I became fast friends and even, forgive me da, built a relationship not unlike the closeness of father and son.

Many nights we spent awake till early hours, sitting by the fireplace and talking. Mostly I listened as he taught me the ways of the library or told me tales I had not yet read.

I grew to love the old Master and I am certain he loved me too.

Then, at the end of my first year under him, he fell very ill. He developed a fever one night though he showed no signs of sickness leading up to it. For 9 days I tended him until the fever broke and he spoke to me then of his family and the home he left in favour of the library. The scorn of a wife for leaving and fellow apprentices for being so much older than they, and a brother who disowned him and cared for Master Gayle’s family in his absence.

He spoke of his childhood and we laughed as it was revealed that his life was very much like mine.

The weight fell off his body and within two months he could no longer rise from bed.

I went to check on him one morning, half a year after his fever and found him sitting up in bed, a lap table laid across his knees holding quill, ink, parchment and a small vial of sand.

“Fregor,” he spoke to me in a hoarse whisper, “I will leave this life soon. I feel it in every bone, in every aching muscle. My time is coming.”

“Master Gayle,” I began but he cut me off with a sharp wave of his hand. “I wish I had not wasted my life away with these books of dead men and their tales.  This library cost me everything.”

“I thought you loved the library, Master Gayle,” I said to him.

“I do, lad. But now I am at the end of my days and see it was poorly traded when I took these books and scrolls over all the things I loved and could have loved, had I given myself the life to experience them.”

I did not know how to respond to that and so we sat in silence for a time. Eventually he dipped his quill and began to write, I took my leave.

Three days later, before midday, as I was organising my writing equipment in my pack there came a knock at my door.

“Come,” I called out and a woman named Elis opened my door.

Her eyes were puffy and red and she held a linen handkerchief bunched in one hand.

“Fregor, Master Gayle has passed,” straight to the point and it was a point that rocked me.

The world spun and I believe I blacked out for I have no recollection of how I came to be on my bed or where Elis had gone.

My mind was blank and my heart was sore.

I’m not entirely sure how but before lunch had come I was outside the city standing on the west bound highway.

I think even then I knew I would seek out Master Gayle’s estranged family.

 


This is a work on progress and a very rough draft, though I hope you enjoy it despite its (probable) many mistakes, bad grammar and poor layout. I would love to know your thoughts. 

Welcome to Galdenya.


Image

https://www.google.com.au/amp/s/breakingmuscle.com/amp/healthy-eating/down-in-the-dirt-series-part-3-a-local-farm-and-the-city-slickers-who-run-it

The Very Beginning

By Aarron Mondello

Ilkahliel, nameless, void. The Void.
Awoke and spoke and heard no echo
Cried shinning tears in solitary sorrow
They cascaded down and all around
To Ilkahliel, The Void, they bound
And The Void first knew light.

So it was that Ilkahliel made stars and they clung about his heavenly vastness and filled his blackness with the first thing that was not him.
They shone to him like revelation and he knew he could do more.

Time did not pass, for time was not. But Ilkahliel was, and he was alone.
He spoke into the light dotted nothing and lacking any whom could speak back, he spoke for those that did not exist.
And in the no-time there was only  Ilkahliel.
Until suddenly there was another.
“Who are you to be in this blackness with these beautiful gems all to himself? The other asked suddenly and Ilkahliel thought himself half mad.
“I name myself Ilkahliel, the Void. I am the blackness I cried these beautiful gems and they are bound to me,” Ilkahliel spoke back, “But pray, who art thou to exist within me and speak as though ye hold dominion here?”
The other fell silent and Ilkahliel despaired to be alone.
Then the other spoke again,
“You have named me La’Tail and I exist within you and of you. You gave me a voice though you spoke it for me for I was not strong enough in presence to do so myself. And now…I am.”
And time did not pass for time was not.
Suddenly La’Tail spike again.
“Ilkahliel, may I not be as you? I am but a thought in you thoughts . May I not have form such as you?”
“I have no form,” came Ilkahliel’s reply, “I am just darkness.”
“Not so, for if you were, these gems would have naught to bind and cling to,” La’Tail mused.
Ilkahliel considered this and decided it was true.
Then, “Yes, I grant the boon you ask. I will give you form so that you may  live beyond me and on me, and serve me. Be now, La’Tail,” and he wept again. This time with joy at the thought of having a child born of his essence.
His tears fell and gathered together, pooling into a vast glowing Jewel that outshone any of the gems and lit the void of Ilkahliel revealing the wonders of his form that was no more just The Void.
On La’Tail stretched his light until it shone to the far reaches of Ilkahliel and he saw there large boils grown of Ilkahliel. So large had they grown they had separated from him and were tethered by a single thin tendril on which they lazily spun.
La’Tail, free to have his own thoughts discovered curiosity and greatly desired to see these boils and moved himself to them.
But he did not see the tendrils and became ensnared in them and snapped them.
The tendrils held La’Tail tightly in their midst and evermore did he shine down on and in them, warming them with his light.

Of my birth and the creation of light.
Penned by La’Tail, Giver of light, life and all things that grow, during my time among the Vor’Dalee.

©Aarron Mondello
2/1/2018

I would love to know what you think of this one. 


Image https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/goddard/2016/hubble-looks-into-a-cosmic-kaleidoscope

The Corridor pt2

By Aarron Mondello

22/11/2017

 

Standing again at the end of a corridor similar to the first only this time lit by flickering yellow fluorescent tubes that cast an eerie glow along the walls. They shone just bright enough to dispel any shadow between them. As before, behind him was only a blank wall with flaking paint and no clue as to how he came to be in this place.

He retained full memory of his last trip down a dank corridor lit by burning torches in sconces above dilapidated old doors that opened onto a maddening black nothing. He still didn’t understand what significance that hallway held but he had a feeling the picture would be somewhat filled in as he travelled this one. He knew there would be other doors under those faulty old lights. He wasn’t so sure he wanted to open any of them though.

He took a deep breath and slowly started walking forward. After all, what else was there to do here? His mind kept going back to the fist Corridor. The madness he had started to feel as he traversed it’s impossible length. The darkness and sounds experienced behind each door tickled familiarly at the edges of his brain but he couldn’t quite manage to grasp why. Everytime he thought he almost had it it slipped away, slid between his fingers like an eel coated in oil. Apprehensive and nervous he walked to the first flickering yellow tube above the first door.

The door he found was not rotten and dilapidated as he was expecting. Quite the opposite it looked brand new and fit for a mansion as opposed to this dark Hall. Pristine white it seemed to gather the light to itself and reflect it cleanly from every gleaming surface. The paint like pure snow, the shining brass hinges and golden oval doorknob all seemed lit from within.

He relaxed a little at the sight of it. A door this lovely to behold couldn’t be hiding darkness and madness…could it?

As he reached a tentative hand towards the sparkling doorknob he noticed a light engraving on the white wood, so soft it was barely there.                  “Terry?” he asked softly of the tiger etched in the pristine wood. No answer came and he wondered then who Terry was and why the name and image seemed so familiar in his heart.                    Ultimately it didn’t matter, he turned the handle and stepped through the door.

He sat on a pale blue, circular rug in the middle of a room with walls painted to resemble a cloudless sky. Looking up he saw a bright yellow sun-shaped shade hanging motionless from a light in the ceiling. On one wall there was a four tier bookcase with filled with children’s stories. Strangely though, he could not read the titles, he could see where the words should be but they were just nonsensical shapes.                                                                                  Against another wall were two toy boxes. One was a plain soft green shaped like a chest, the other shaped like a dinosaur with its back open. Between them a mountain of teddy bears and plush toys were stacked staring at him with black glassy dead eyes.     There was a bed, low to the ground and made to look like a red race car. And on the last wall the white tiger etched door stood open through which he could see the corridor.

From somewhere else in this place, a place apart from this room he could hear voices though he could not understand a word they said. Time to move on he decided. On to the next door in the hopes that it would not be exactly the same. He tried to sand and found he had absolutely no control of his balance. Every time he tried to stand he’d fall heavily to the blue mat.

He began to yell in frustration. Smacking the rug with an open hand.

“Oosha adda iddy ad?” a woman’s voice called from beyond the door. His heart swelled with love when he heard voice. He tried to call out and tell the woman he couldn’t stand but all he could do was gurgle and make noises. He tried again and when he still could not talk he began to cry. Great heaving sobs shook his shoulders and his high pitched scream bounced off the walls, reverberating in his ears and hurting his head which made him want to cry more.

The sight of her stopped him, confused and unable to grasp just how she was walking towards him through a wall in the corridor. He could see her coming closer. As though she walked along a passage but she was in the wall! It hurt his head to look at. His mind refusing to make sense of it. It was as though the corridor he had left was layered over another place and the people that existed here were unaware of his world. They couldn’t touch his and he couldn’t see theirs.

Thankfully, finally, she stepped through the door into the room and the sickening image of her walking towards him from far away in a solid wall was gone. She stood before him tall and beautiful looking down on him with startling green eyes. She was beautiful, but he was afraid in a corner of his mind. A corner that still stood in the corridor.

“Up to Aunty?” she asked him and he was relieved to find he actually understood this time. He reached up to her and she bent to pick him up, holding him on her hip.

“Oh ee Dad?” one word he knew but he made no effort to reply. He just stared at her and she turned to walk out of the room. As she passed the threshold he felt a jolt, like an electric shock encompassing his entire body and he found himself back in the corridor looking at a pristine white door with police tape stuck in zig zags down it’s face.

He passed two more doors and they held very similar encounters. Both times the same woman who would come to get him in the midst of a tantrum and somewhere she’d mention “Dad” before walking out of the door and thumping him back into his own body.

The third door took a darker turn as he sat on the blue rug crying. From somewhere in a world he could not see he heard screaming. A man’s voice and a woman’s voice yelling gibberish at one another for what felt like hours. Then it all went silent and he began to cry, scared.

There came a dull thump followed by a yell and crashing, the sound of smashing glass. A man said something in a harsh voice and the thump came again. And again. And again. Over and over. It began to sound wet, like someone punching a self-saucing pudding. Finally the world went silent again.

He was very afraid now and wanted to get out of here. A strong feeling of deja vu swept over him and he almost saw…what? Red? He started to pull himself towards the door. God! Why was it so hard to move here? Inspiration struck him and he pulled his legs up under his belly and began to wobbly crawl towards the door. Slowly but surely he passed the threshold and pounded back into his own body.

His vision cleared. Looking into the room with the blue rug. The toy boxes, the bed, the teddies. “I’m a baby in there” he whispered to himself. Shocked he had not realised it sooner. When the woman spoke he didn’t understand, save for a few words. She picked him up and carried him on her hip…that world beyond the door blurred the lines in his mind and now he realised that, what was true in there was the only truth. He didn’t realise earlier because in there, it was normal, it was reality.

Then it finally registered to him that the door was still open. All the others had closed as soon as he left them. Why was this different?

He looked left and came face to face with himself. Startled he jumped back with a cry. Arms wrapped around his chest and held him. He struggled, kicking and squirming but the arms about him seemed made of steel.

“Quit it,” the person behind him spoke in his voice and he sagged like limp spaghetti. The arms about him held him in place.

The Him in front of him spoke now. It made his head spin to see himself standing there talking in his voice.                                                                                     “You have to go back in there. It’s not over.”                “What is this place?” he asked Himself. As a response the Him just reached forward and tapped his forehead. And before he knew what was happening he was launched through the air and back into the room with the blue rug.

Footsteps came echoing down a hall he could not see and the figure of the woman walking towards him though wall appeared again. It was still hard to look at, someone walking towards him from within a flat surface.

She stepped across the threshold and leapt into perfect clarity, he saw she was crying. This agitated him and he began to whimper like a sad puppy.

“Oh no, don’t cry,” she crooned at him while hastily wiping her eyes.                                                                  “Come. Come,” she bent and picked him up “Eh O to eh Park,” he felt excitement bubbling at the only word in that sentence he knew. He loved going outside and had learned to associate “park” with sunshine and outdoors.  She started heading towards the door with him on her hip. In a small corner of his mind, the small part that remained himself he tried to prepare for the jolt back into his own body.

She stepped through the door into a short hallway leading down to a set of stairs. The floors shone dark and polished. Halfway down there was a stand that had photos and fake looking flowers on it. A framed painting of a beach side shack hung on the opposite wall.                                                                       He had just enough time to be surprised before this reality swept over and became all he knew again.

Down the stairs at the end of the hall they went. An open kitchen on the left was pristine white and he cooed softly knowing that’s where ‘num nums’ were.

He vaguely noticed the splashes of red along the white bench top and up one of the white walls as something not normally there. Then it was swept from his mind as they neared the front door. He started bouncing excitedly on her hip at the thought of outside. As she opened the door he turned around and saw his dad asleep on the kitchen floor. He looked different…red. But outside beckoned and he was just a baby. His father’s smashed face never dawned on his limited knowledge or attention span.

The front door opened and a sudden white, warming light flooded over him and wrapped about him. Both him-as-baby and him-as-man felt physical sensation, a tingling that ran over the whole body as the light blocked out all vision. Slowly it faded, grew dimmer and he found himself back in the corridor looking through the open doorway at a world whizzing past. Houses passing in a blink, trees swooshing by. He experienced a brief vertigo when his mind reverted back to Him-as-baby and in his thoughts ‘PARK’ rang loud and clear, a little spark in a mind fogging over with sleep. Then the door closed softly and police warning tape began to unravel from thing air and zig zag down the door frame.

He stood staring at the faintly etched tiger on the door. Faint memories of a teddy that he carried everywhere for the first few years of his life swimming across the front of his thoughts until a soft scuffing noise caught his attention. He turned to his left and saw the two others, the Hims. One smiled maniacally, eyes wide and crazy and the other wore a dour expression.

Dour Him spoke “That’s where it started. Even if you don’t remember.”                                                                Crazy Him laughed “Did you see  his face? Hehehe haha haha heheheh.” They advanced on him, one laughing and one silent and he had no where to run, no where to go for the walls enclosed him in a box with these two apparitions. They covered him, smothered him. He couldn’t see. He couldn’t breath. He was suffocating and his vision was growing dark. ‘I’m going to die’ he thought sadly as the last of the light faded and he fell into oblivion.


Featured image found here

https://www.google.com.au/amp/s/www.pinterest.com/amp/pin/352195633330387338/

The Corridor pt1

I have been writing a short story that will come in three, possibly four parts. Here is part one, I hope you enjoy it while I finish off part two.


By Aarron Mondello

15/11/2017

Burning rush torches dimly lit the narrow corridor, sputtering and sparking in their sconces.
Dark patches of shifting shadow hung heavy in the spaces between them.
The walls, dark and dirty, seemed to stretch on forever until they met at a point far off in the distance.
But that could have been a trick the gloom played on his eyes, no corridor could be that long.
He turned to look behind him, wondering how he came to be here.
No answers did he find in the old flaking paint nor the patches of brick he saw there.
He turned back to stare back down the impossibly long hall.
For a while he just stood wracking his brain, trying to remember anything from before he found himself here.
His mind was blank, his memories empty or hiding.

From behind and around him a soft wind tickled his bare chest, coiled around his shoulders and came to rest on the back of his neck like a ghostly hand.
There was a gentle push. Not on his body but in his mind.
A compelling whisper deep in his thoughts that breezed around his consciousness and bade him walk.
So he did.
He felt oddly calm as he took those few steps in this strange place.

A dozen flat sounding steps he took. No echo of his footfalls, no little puffs of dust as his feet scuffed slowly over the black, stone floor.
A wave of vertigo swept over him. A surreal feeling crying out that he was dreaming and none of this was real.
When he reached the first torch he looked back the way he had come.
The child that still lingered in his heart was certain he would see the wall right there in front of him like he’d not moved at all. Or worse, gone and replaced by another corridor stretching on into dark oblivion.
But there was the dirty wall he had briefly examined only moments ago. Slightly darker now that he stood in the light of a torch, but no more or less than where it should be.

He turned to resume walking but as he did something caught his eye.
A door, small, dark and rotting squatted at an odd angle beneath the torch.
The planks were cracked and warped, gaps where they no longer sat flush allowed him to glimpse into the darkness behind.
He put his sweaty palm to the door and softly pushed. Surprisingly, the door opened silently and without resistance.
He stood in the doorway and stared into nothing. Looking left he saw the hallway stretching on forever, looking right that same dirty wall a short distance away.
But when he looked through the door it was though the darkness came alive and leapt out into the hallway, swallowing him, blinding him.
Cutting off his peripheral and drowning him.

But it wasn’t a complete nothing. From somewhere in the darkness came a soft rhythmic THUD-UD THUD-UD THUD-UD.
It came in pulses against his senses, vibrations in the air seemed to massage every part of him while the sound carried waves of calm which broke over the shores of a beautiful and forgotten beach and  left him feeling peaceful, relaxed.
Then the door closed without any interference from him. A hollow BOOM awoke him to where he was and he stood confused, staring at a dirty patch of soot-blackened brick, the door was gone.
For a moment he wondered about the strange door before deciding it didn’t matter.
He turned and began moving towards the next torch a short distance away.

The torch fluttered just above his head. This door looked exactly like the first one, it opened just as silently.
The same darkness leapt out to engulf him and drive his senses away with that comforting THUD-UD THUD-UD THUD-UD.
Only now there was another sound weaving itself through the gentle thud.
A constant murmur like people talking too loudly in another room. Heard but not understood, it caused unease to taint the peace he felt.
The door closed and he moved on.

Three more doors he passed that were just like the first two. Old and rotten things that hid the calming thud and the murmur that shook it.
The dirty patch of wall where he had started had faded with the distance and stood now as a slightly lighter patch of shadow surrounded by darkness back the way he had come.
He was beginning to fear this place with its dirty walls, rotten doors and perpetual sameness.
He ran to the sixth door and threw it open.
The dark.
The thud.
The murmur.
Heart pounding in his chest he took off for the seventh door and slammed it open.
The dark.
The thud.
The murmur.
His pulse thrumming in his ears he turned and sped for the eighth door.
He skidded to a halt and kicked the door. Rotten wood crumbled easily and fell to pile at his feet. A glimpse of
The dark.
The thud.
The murmur.
The thudding matched his heartbeat, the murmur ran with his pulse.
Far from relaxing now, it was maddening!

Pursued by sounds and darkness he could not explain he half ran, half stumbled towards the ninth door.
He reached it panting and sweating. Tears ran unknown his cheeks.
He shook his head trying to deny his desire to open the door but knowing he would, knowing he already was.
He opened the door and screamed, but there was only the darkness.
No thud.
No murmur.

Then the black pulsed red.
A high pitched tone suddenly split the silence, another sameness, the tone never changed, never wobbled.
Panic began to bubble in his chest, boiling, a pressure in his throat that stoped his breath.
He leaned forward.
A voice echoed off the blackness
“She’s gone. We have to get him out now.”

The darkness pulsed a painful red with each word.
His fingers scrabbled uselessly at the door handle but in his panic he couldn’t make them obey him.
The screaming tone tore at his ears and stabbed into his mind shattering all thought and memory into a million cutting shards that sliced his brain with ice.
The darkness flashed red with every beat of his heart, like a strobe light from hell, setting his eyes on fire.
His fingers finally found a purchase on the door handle and with a wordless cry he threw himself backwards, pulling the door closed with him.
The door slammed with a resounding boom that echoed off down the hall chased by a whisper
“He’s not breathing.”
Pain flared in the back of skull as his head snapped back and bounced off the wall behind him. He sunk dazed and dizzy to the floor.
The door before him slowly faded, grew transparent and finally disappeared, leaving only a cracked wall in its place.
He leaned to the side and heaved until stomach was empty.
Then sitting against the wall, chin on his chest, he sunk into a troubled sleep.

©

A World Within.

 

By Aarron Mondello

9/11/2017

Dust and grit fell down on Dorthium as the earth trembled, dusting his long white hair with pepper coloured dirt. He coughed as the cloud settled to the ground around him.

How long had he been here now, trapped in this underground cavern? Hours? Days? There was no way to mark the passing of time in this dim place that would be his tomb. If it wasn’t for the softly glowing sphere resting on his lap he would have been in total darkness.

The Sphere is what brought him here. Rumours of its power to hold a world had intrigued and captivated him for three times the life span of a normal man. Now in his final years he had sought it. Extending all his magic and reputation to pin point its location and now he was paying for his lust.

When he first held aloft the Sphere it had a flashed a brilliant blue and shown in his mind images of open fields dotted with herds of great animals baring sail-like fins down their back. Rolling hills carpeted in softly swaying yellow grass. And trees that waved their branches tipped with purple leaves and bright flowers in a cool breeze.

Far above the landscape dragons tumbled and played in the clouds, long tails reflecting the sun in rainbow coloured flashes.

In the distance a sparkling green ocean stretched to the horizon, calm and inviting.

With a sound like rushing air the light had fled back to the Sphere and the first tremor followed it, collapsing the only entrance to the cave.

A long time he spent trying to free himself from the cavern but try as he might Dorthium was unable to shift the rubble that trapped him, geomancy was never among his strengths and now, as an old mage, all his powers were failing.

He had spent the time that followed employing all the arts known to him in an attempt to awaken the Sphere and allow him to cross into that other world he had glimpsed. Or even to release that world and hopefully have the sudden construction of it burst out of this place and free him.

Finally, exhausted, he had to stop. He could feel his strength failing and knew he would die if he continued to use his magic so recklessly. He didn’t want to die, he wanted to be alive and free.

For a while he could think of nothing else to do but to stare at the Sphere glowing softly with a pale blue light.

He fell asleep at some stage and woke with a jolt, confused and scared, not knowing where he was. Then memory of the Sphere, the world it showed and the tunnel collapsing flooded his mind and momentarily dizzied him.

Thirsty, he rummaged in his pack and bought out a dented flask. Only a small amount remained and panic tinged his thoughts.

He turned back to the Sphere and cast spell after spell upon it.

All manner of spells he cast. Spells to unlock. Spells to persuade, to control. Spells that would allow a barren woman to conceive or a broken manhood to flare again with life.

He even cast a few vile spells that would wake the dead or invade a living mind.

All fell flat on the Sphere. It was as though it wasn’t there.

Hunger gnawed at his belly and he tasted thirst again but he would not stop. He knew now that if he did not gain access to this world he would perish in the cavern and none would ever find his bones. He would turn to dust on the floor.

Better to die trying than to limply await his fate.

His nose started to bleed as he went past the point of exhaustion, past the point where he could heal himself.

He cast a spell that would bring a small patch of infertile ground to life mingled with one that would speed the growth of plants and the Sphere flashed bright.

Dorthium found himself floating bodiless above the ruins of a great castle amidst as lush forest.

The walls about the castle ground choked with Ivy that slowly, relentlessly pulled it down brick by brick.

He tried to move a found he was as a breeze, able to flow effortlessly wherever he pleased.

Down and around the castle he flew. Through an open window staring like a dead eye and down a warped stair case that led into the dank bowels of the castle.

He found a crack in the roof of the dungeon and passed through it as though it were a great doorway opening onto the world.

Up high into the air he went and flew unnoticed with the dragons as they twirled through the clouds.

He laughed in his mind for the freedom he felt.

Then the world shook and rattled and everything fell out of focus. It was as though he was gazing through a dirty looking glass.

Something gripped him then and pulled on him. He was dragged up higher in the air no matter how hard he fought against it.

Up through the atmosphere he sped and with a body jarring jolt he was flung back into himself. The sphere now pulsed, its blue light throbbing from deep within.

The ground under him shook violently and the rock above him groaned.

Blood now poured from his nose in an endless stream. His chest felt like a fire had been kindled over his heart. His stomach clenched painfully and the sick smell of human waste assaulted him as his bowels emptied.

It had cost him too much to remain in that other world for so long. His body was done, shutting down.

The Sphere also seemed displeased for each time the pulsing light grew bright the earth around him rumbled harder.

He curled protectively over the Sphere as chunks of stone as big as his head began to fall around him.

The blood from his nose coated the top of it and turned the calm blue light a sickly purple.

An instant of pain, a bright flash of light. Over before he realised part of the ceiling had let go and smashed his failing body flat.

 

Groggily Dorthium rolled to his back. His whole body hurt, felt bruised and broken as though he had been trampled by elephants. His head pounded like a bass and he saw floating flecks each time that drum was struck.

It was darkness absolute.

He laid them for a time, mentally taking stock of all the pains his body felt. Nothing too serious, nothing broken, but by the gods he hurt.

A cool, gentle breeze wafted over his face carrying the tang of salt water to him.

Something snuffed close to his head and he felt a soft wet something nudge at the side of his face.

He opened his eyes and looked up into a clear blue sky. A shadow passed over him as a dragon flew overhead turning corkscrews in the air and trumpeting joyfully to its mates.

He rolled onto his side and struggled to his hands and knees startling the creature that was investigating him.

The great dog barked shrilly and jumped back snuffing the air. After a moment it turned and fled along a shore made of smooth white stone.

Dorthium looked up at the vast sparkling emerald waters of a spreading ocean and laughed.

He had made it at the last to the world within.

 

The Devil And Me

By Aarron Mondello

6/11/2017

Travelling down the dark and empty street

With the devil by my side
He trotting with me on hooves not on feet
Matching my every stride.

Obsidian horns emit a black light
Stealing it from the stars
Around his shoulders rests a cloak of the night
And I speak “ What a glorious beast you are.”

Soul piercing eyes burn bright into me
As he turns his head to stare
His smile so wide it shows jagged black teeth
Framed by luscious lips so fair.

A sinuous grace that steals my senses
Brings to mind a poisonous snake
As beautiful temptation worms through my defences
Dark appetites begin to wake.

A body so shaped and seemingly supple
How can such perfection be true
I feel my mind  over taken my thoughts all befuddled
I speak “ What a beautiful creature are you.”

I stop where I stand as he turns once again
Those entrancing white eyes upon me
With a sharp whip like crack his cloak is now wings
And be begs “Let the me in your heart run free.”

‘I will’ I promise from somewhere inside
And although I never actually spoke
He nods knowingly when my desire he spied
He then turned and away he strode.

I stood in a shadow and watched my love leave
Growing hazier with every step
The deepest struggle I’ve known is to make sure I breathe
As he wafted away like a last dying breath.

I came back to myself and looked around scared
Almost worried that he’d soon be back
Almost hoping his wings would trap me – ensnared
Whilst feeling my horns of obsidian black.

 

The Untold Story

By Aarron Mondello

6/11/2017

Inner turmoil I have something inside

I just can’t get it out

A tale is bubbling waiting to thrive Waiting on my shout.

I can see the sun so brightly shining
On a castle walls of black
A pie bald mare through fields is galloping
With an armoured knight upon its back.

Where does he go or where has he been
The voices try to say
What are his adventures so far untold
How many has he slain?

If I sit and try to listen
To the tale of this knight
All I come up with is his shield a glistening
While he takes his flight.

Is he hunted or is he chasing
I would so love to know
What are the perils he is facing
Where does his tale go.

See, not every hero is ever sung
Not all tales be told
Some pass silently into the unknown
Whilst being ever bold.

Worlds within Words

By Aarron Mondello 

6/11/2017

Nestled in the mind of one

Lies a world of stunning folk

Built within the walls of these blank pages

Made of delicately crafted strokes.

A fantastic red bird on the wing

Crimson plumage growing fair

An ape like creature shining brightly

With gold dust in its hair.

Silver antlers growing tall and proud

From the head of a pygmy man

Purple grasses sway in the breeze

Across these unknown lands.

Vast oceans stretch far to the horizon

Playful mermaids cavort and leap

Over the crystal clear sparkling waters

With their tails of emerald green.

Across the mountains covered in trees

A bustling city lies

With gossamer walkways impossibly stretching

Between towers reaching for the skies.

Great tall trees line the streets

Rustling their brightly coloured leaves

As around and through this artisans city

Blows a citrus scented breeze.

Here a woman beautiful and blue

Sits by a man with quills down his spine

Walking past them five identical children

Keeping a perfect line.

A group of giggling duck billed women

Speak a language all their own

Near a family spotted like forest deer

And seven old men made of stone.

The streets fast empty as the twin suns set

And the silver moon rises bright and clear

For night time here in this world of wonders

Holds many things to fear.

Tiny pale poisonous rodents

Chase insects on the ground

Dodging the feet of hulking man beats

Who hunt the night without a sound.

Giant black wolves stalking hungrily

Noses twitch as they scent their prey

All hidden things in this world gone dark

They see with their eyes so grey.

And far above the mountain tops

A dangerous beauty soars

Hungry and deadly on wings of sable

The night trembles when the dragon roars.

This is just one world of many

Lying hidden through the ages

One of many worlds within words

Captured on these pages.