Born of stars and witness to the rise and fall of civilizations, an immortal entity takes for granted the vastness of her knowledge—until she falls in love with an ordinary mortal warrior. But the price she pays for this indiscretion involves knowledge of something much greater and more powerful than war, wizards or even the gods themselves.
The wizard lived north in the foothills of the Spectral Mountains, in the ancient castle of Altaeros. A god of that name had built it; he lived in the sinews of the castle through a towering opal spire that focused his mind in the world. But the Shade cared nothing for that. As a terrible storm, she raced over the sky wailing in a legion of shadows, a maiden’s grief, a mother’s wrath. She struck the towering moss-cloaked stones of Altaeros, shattering panes of crystals and glass, uprooting generations of herbs and flowers and shaking the earth beneath the foundation stones. She rained and split the sky with thunder, she howled like wolves and screamed like owls, and blew the trees and brush into tangled, cracking hands until at last, when she had become too heavy and empty to rage anymore, she fell.
The castle shuddered when she hit the floor.
Time slowed, spun around for a moment, and stopped. An overcast sky gazed down dispassionately as the immortal rolled over in her woman’s form, pale as a broken shell.
“Are you finished?” said a voice above her.
“The Fifth Verse” originally appeared in Tales of the Talisman, V5-4.
This story is included in Wizards, Woods and Gods, a collection of twelve dark fantasy tales exploring the mysteries of the Otherworld through tree and animal lore, magic, cosmos, love, war and mysticism.
© F.T. McKinstry 2017. All Rights Reserved.