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Within the Shroud


by nofinestupid

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The faerie shuddered within the black that hung all around her. It was cold; cold and dark like a prison. All around her there were small spots of light. Golden, purple, green, turquoise, glossy blue, midnight blue, violet and green together, flaring orange.... There was an endless variety of colors in a ring around the faerie. She was dressed in an ivory-colored shift that reached barely to her knees, and she did not yet have any wings. Her hair was white, giving her the appearance of someone aged.

      Over the faerie's head, there was a large halo of pale violet that the faerie knew to be the Eye of Queen Fyora. The faerie monarch was watching the lesser faerie standing below, waiting to choose what her type would be. Earth, space, dark, light. Which would it be, which one? The Eye of the Queen rippled overhead, and then disappeared momentarily.

      It was unfortunate that none of the colors around the young faerie emanated any light. It was pitch black here, and only the colors prevented the young faerie from believing that she was nonexistent; dead. This thing, this piece of the underworld that they called the Shroud, was as horrible as she had imagined it. Black. A dungeon.

      A dark purple blob twitched near the faerie's left foot. It was the essence of the Darkness faeries. Gradually, it uncoiled itself. Slithering over to the nameless faerie's leg, it began to climb up her body. It was frigid to the touch. Undulating like a liquid, the magic that would make the faerie a dark faerie began to envelope her.

      The faerie twisted suddenly, wrenching her waist about without warning. The purple did not loosen its hold. But the faerie kept struggling, now crying out.

      "Please stop!" she shouted, beating at her own body now in an attempt to force the darkness from it. "Leave me! I am not dark!"

      The faerie fought as the deep purple color continued to wind around her. It began to envelop her neck. She knew that when it covered her head, it would be over: she would be a dark faerie.

      But she was not a dark faerie.

      "I am not!" she cried harshly. Raking her nails over the shapeless mass, she managed to fling part of it away. In shock and something like genuine offense, the other part fell to the floor. The front reared like a snake, bright amethyst jewels glittering like eyes.

      Why, little one? coaxed a soothing voice from the essence. You should be a dark faerie. It would be fitting. You should be one of us.

      "I can't," the faerie whispered, letting tears course in rivulets down her cheeks. "I can't...."

      Come now, the solacing voice beseeched. Do you not wish to be free of this place? Do you not wish to escape the Shroud?

      "Yes," the faerie breathed, almond-shaped eyes closing for a fraction of a second. Beyond the Shroud. It must be paradise.

      Oh, it is, the essence of darkness wheedled. It is lovely-certainly better than the Shroud. The dark looked around itself with something that seemed like distaste. All dark and clammy. Unfeeling, unloving. Come with me, and you will experience the Outside.

      "You are unfeeling and dark," the faerie murmured.

      Come on, the voice snapped, growing impatient. My dear, that is a stereotype. That dark faeries are evil, I mean. We are certainly not evil. Just because we are beings of the night. Why not hold a grudge against the space faeries?

      The faerie held her ground, refusing to back down. "They are people of the stars and the moon; not simply of pitch blackness."

      Leave it. The darkness swivelled its shapeless head and gazed, with flaring amethyst eyes, into the young faerie's face. Just come with me. Let me take you. Let me drink you, and you shall drink in me, and then you shall LIVE. A soft chuckle came from somewhere within the heart of the dark purple snake. You can go wherever you wish. To perch on the white clouds, to sway with the winds of the meadows, to dance on the peaks of mountains. You can become, little one. You can do everything, once you just succumb to darkness and let me take you.

      The faerie averted her gaze. "No. I will not," she protested defiantly.

      The snake opened a gaping mouth and hissed wordlessly. It was no longer trying to cajole, to persuade the faerie who stood before it. It wanted to end her. To kill.

      I would do it, the snake spat, sliding back into the shadows. But I cannot. It is not possible. Not in the Shroud. It lifted its head. I have been chosen for you, and you have refused. Now, you will rot in the Shroud. Forever.

      The faerie let out a piercing scream and clawed at the blackness. She could not stay here. Not in the black. Not in the Shroud.

      "I do not belong here!" she screamed desperately, carving deep ruts in the murk with her fingers. "I belong in the world! With life! Life! LIFE!"

      She wanted to live.

      She needed to live.

      Then, the vibrant lavender aura above her head gave a blinding pulse, in a way that did not give any words, but somehow brooked no argument. And it was telling the youth to be still.

      The force of the command shocked the nameless faerie into standing still. She ceased to scream and pound at The Shroud, and stood stock-still in the Shroud. She just looked up at the Eye of the Queen. Was it possible...? Would the Queen of the faeries really do something that outrageous?....

      Slowly, gradually, a thin tendril of the Queen's Eye detached itself from the Eye itself. It wound down, coiling and twisting gracefully like violet smoke. It circled the ring of faerie colors; it passed over earth, space, snow, and all the others that were seated there.

      It traveled about the young faerie about twenty-two more times. In that stretch of time, the faerie felt it was not possible to be bored. She waited, shivering and watching the tentacle of light form smoky rings around her that smelled of violets. The scent soothed her slightly, but not enough. Still, she stood rigid and tense, following its every motion, waiting to see what she would become.

      O Fyora, choose well. Let me become something that I want to be.

      A spot of golden light stretched upwards as the purple limb passed over it. It reached up as though bidding that Fyora choose it. With a thrill of hopefulness, the faerie within the ring realized what she wanted to be. She squeezed her eyes shut tight, and sent her strongest wills to Fyora.

      O Fyora, choose well. Let me become what you have passed so many times. It is my dream; my very core hopes. O great Queen, let me become this. Please. Please.

      The faerie's beseeching reached such a pitch that the piece of the Eye paused. It hesitated, reluctant to go back or to go on. Then it began to move backwards.

      The unborn faerie secretly rejoiced. Would the Queen Fyora of the faeries really do this for her?

      The finger of light stopped over the golden splodge of color. Extending itself, it rustled close to the color.

      The faerie held her breath.

      They touched.

      The faerie let out her breath, eyes shining with tears of delight.

      The purple vanished, and now a powerful, almighty feminine voice was booming out forcefully.

      Young faerie, your choice has been made. Go now into the world of faeries, and may you have strength and courage. You are a faerie of the light, and your name is Luminess.

      "Oh," the newly-named Luminess whispered. "O mighty Queen, thank you for your kindness."

      Go into the world. I command you to be. Become the light.

      BE!

      The Shroud shuddered as though there were an earthquake happening within it. Luminess looked down at herself and gasped.

      Her skin had a golden tinge to it. It spread out swiftly, and as it reached Luminess's forehead, she was seized by violent spasms. They bore no pain, but hit her like physical blows, hard and in quick succession. Her hair erupted into a radiant golden color from the gray it had once been, and her eyes turned bright yellow. Luminess's jagged-hemmed dress turned gold as well.... And then....

      Now there was pain. A harsh tremor shook Luminess, and there was a deep, unspeakable agony between her shoulder blades. The skin on her back rearranged, passing smoothly aside, and a pair of luminescent faerie wings unfolded from her shoulders. Luminess rose up into the air without flapping them once, and her head was thrown back so that she was staring into the blinding light of the Queen's Eye.

      GO NOW, LUMINESS OF THE LIGHT! the Queen boomed. Light emanated from Luminess, mingling with the light of the Eye and shattering the shroud around them. The Eye retreated, and a broad rip opened in the top of the Shroud. Light beamed down, beautiful golden light; and green, and sky, and life.

      Luminess began to laugh, laughing with felicity and relief and delight and happiness that she had never known until now.

      And she rose up into the life.

The End

 
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