Echoes of Silence

I am a Ninja Writer taking part in the post a day for the month of May challenge. Today’s short story was written from another Ninja Challenge of letting song lyrics be our inspiration/story prompt.

Kamisha walked slowly through the drooping willow branches, down the sloping path to the cave hidden from all except herself. Centuries ago a thick door had been placed at the entrance and she gently lay a palm against the wood; the door opened enough for her slender frame to slip through and she stood inside, enveloping herself in the darkness as the door shut behind her. It wrapped around her like the embrace of an old friend, familiar, soothing, comforting, loving.

There were those who said Kamisha was the darkness incarnate. With waist length straight black hair, as thick as rope, enormous black eyes with long lashes that held a person’s gaze, never the first to avert. She wore a black skirt that swept the floor, black boots below with a shirt that sat off her shoulders, exposing the soft creaminess of her skin in contrast to the darkness of material. The knife at her waist had a long blade, the handle carved from ebony inlaid with serindibite.

Kamisha flowed as she moved like a dark breeze. She had never given any cause for those she lived amongst to fear her, she was not a witch and did not cast spells. She lived alone in a cottage at the top of Meredion Tor and had few visitors, less friends. No one knew where she had come from; she seemed to have been in Mirefield for always. Even its oldest inhabitants could not recall the arrival of the mysterious young girl.

Kamisha loved this place of darkness where not even a chink of light made its way through; she felt safe as if held within a womb. She felt no need to bring candlelight with her, she was comfortable here and knew no harm would befall her.

“Hello.” She spoke softly, not wishing to disturb the spirits that sheltered here. She heard the faintest rustling in response, a sigh in the air around her.

“I have come to talk with you again.”

She said then waited to see if there would be an answer.

”I would have you help me explain a dream for it has disquieted me, and I seek your wisdom in interpreting its meaning.”

A gentle exhalation of air touched her face. “Speak.” The instruction seemed to come from far away. Kamisha smiled into her dark surroundings.

“I walked alone, in rain, through narrow cobbled streets that I did not recognise. The air was cold, so cold and I turned my hood to protect myself from the damp and the dark. It was not the darkness of here, or Meredion Tor, but a — a malignant entity — like a cancer that would destroy all before it. Yet the night was quiet. More than quiet. Silent.” She paused and there was an anticipation in the atmosphere around her.

“More.” The voice said, nearer now.

“Yes.” Kamisha confirmed. “In my dream, as I walked down the street there was a great flash of light, as if it was a bolt from the heavens above but yet brighter still. And in that light I saw, I saw people, many thousands of people. They looked as if they would speak and yet no words came from their mouths; they held their heads as if they were listening , straining to listen but no sound came. All was silence. They all looked the same, vacant and lost. I held out my arms to them and said “Listen, listen to me. Let me help you. Do not be foolish, please listen to me.” But my words fell unheeded into the silence of their making.

Then another light appeared, the likes of which I have not seen anywhere before in life or in dreams. It was so bright, and red, like blood, a blood red light shredding the darkness, stripping it away as if it was nothing. The people all turned to face the light and knelt before it like it was some deity and then the light spelled out a message. A message that I do not understand. I do not understand any of it.”

“Speak the words.” The voice sounded as if it was very close to Kamisha now.

“It said “The prophets bring their truth to the masses and you cannot stop it. They will bring their truth and their whispers will break the silence. Darkness will be swept away in the torrent of light that is to come.” Then I awoke and I am afraid.”

“Be afeared child.” The voice was behind Kamisha now.

‘But — what does it mean?” Kamisha asked

‘Leave us.”

‘But –“

“Leave us. “

Kamisha turned back the way she had come in retracing the dozen steps to where she knew the door stood. She put the flat of her palm on the warm wood, felt it singing beneath her. Yesterday the song had been joyous, welcoming, now it was a sad lament.

‘Wait.”

She remained where she was facing the door. She seemed to stand for a long time, her arm outstretched, her palm against the wood. The air stirred around her, she felt it move through her hair, her skirts billowing gently, her exposed skin caressed. Yet she remained still.

“Two days. Return.” The voice was faint now, Kamisha had to strain to hear it. The wood moved under her hand and she slipped through the opening, returning to the Tor without looking back.

Kamisha spent the following two days in her Meridion Tor home, she swept the floors, hung and beat the rugs, took a broom to the rafters apologising to the insects she dislodged there. She stacked fire logs and generally kept occupied. Despite her best efforts the dream replayed in her mind all of the time and she wrestled with what it might mean, what terrors it foresaw.

Kamisha was the last of the Closlinnen, an ancient race of guardians that lived virtually unacknowledged amongst men, protecting them from harm. For the Closlinnen to accept an acolyte they had to be the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, taken from their family at the age of seven, serving and learning for seven years, apprenticed for a further seven years and then sent to where they might be most needed, to serve a community in need for as long as they were permitted.

All of Kamisha’s sisters were gone now, those that had lived before her here and in other villages in the region. The world was turning and was no longer as safe a place for her kind as it had once been. The uprising against witchcraft had seem many an innocent woman perish including some of her brethren. Not all communities were so ignorant and the Closlinnen, who were empowered with foresight, watched over their children, their crops and herds averting disaster before it could arrive and cause damage.

No plague had come to Mirefield, no roving looters or murderers, no starvation. The residents lived long and happy lives, passing into the place of death when their bones were ready to sleep. Villagers had commented on their good luck for centuries, but none had associated it with Kamisha’s presence which is just the way she wanted it to be.

The spirits of Kamisha’s sisters resided in the place of darkness guiding and advising her, the youngest and the gentlest of them all. She knew that one day her turn would come to enter that place and never leave and although she was in no hurry to pass from one life to the other, the thought of joining her sisters in eternity was a pleasurable one, not one she was afraid of.

She stood inside the cave, the darkness within welcoming her once more.

“Sister.” The voice was in front of her and Kamisha felt her hand taken into that of another. “Come.” 
 Never before had the spirits come to her whole, it had only ever been speech. Now as she was led through the cave she felt other presences all around her. They stopped and she knew, even though she could not see, that she stood at the centre of a circle. The hand in hers withdrew and she waited.

“Kamisha, beloved, Closlinnen’s last envoy. Your dream has foreseen a time of great peril that will be visited upon this place and on all of mankind.”

“But — can we not stop it?” Kamisha asked

“No. The world is turning Kamisha, to a time of Man’s greatest folly. They will forget what it was to live simply, with enough sustenance, enough shelter, enough love. They move to a time when these things will no longer be enough. They move steadily to the Time of Greed when they will want more, always more. They will sell the land they grow food on, those that have money will buy food and shelter, those that do not will starve and die on the streets. They will destroy love. They will crave only those things that bring but a passing pleasure before they will once more feel dissatisfied, empty and want more.”

“If I cannot stop it , must I witness this terrible happening?” Kamisha’s voice caught as she remembered the way the people had bowed down before the light.

“No beloved. We have thought on this for the two days. Your dream has confirmed the prophecy of old.”

“Prophecy?” Kamisha echoed bewildered.

“The Ebonfall had foreseen this and shared their knowledge with us.”

“I do not know that name.”

“They are a brotherhood, Kamisha. Some, like us, have the gift of foresight and some have other gifts. They are warriors, but warriors for good, not evil. They have seen that mankind will turn to these false prophets and despite it will take many centuries, the Ebonfall will bring them back to the truth. Much will be lost in between. The world will need to be rebuilt.”

“What should I do?”

“It is not your time to join us Kamisha, yet we will not leave you to face such terrors alone. We will protect you here until such time you can walk freely above once more. Come child.”

Kamisha felt the arms reach out to her and she stepped forward into a loving embrace. She smiled as she felt other arms reach out and lift her. A single voice began a lullaby, joined by others echoing around their enclosure and wrapping around her senses. Kamisha’s body and mind relaxed as she drifted into a deep and dreamless sleep, safe in the dark with her sisters away from the sound of silence.

If you enjoyed this story please would you recommend it with a green heart? Thank you.