The Lady of the Mound settles like dust between certainties, holding court on the boundaries of life and death. There’s a lantern, more ancient than time; its light is brighter than a thousand suns. The lantern guides her, comforts her: ever-present, endless. She draws her wisdom from its warmth, her sense of time and space from its inexorable glow.
She squints through the light at the Dark Lord’s approach. His wings shroud all in blackness: endless dark horizons twisted by hate.
“You have become complacent,” he says, his voice echoing beyond time. “You linger in light because you are weak. Embrace me.” His voice is a command, seductive and spiteful.
The Lady of the Mound turns away from his foul breath, sulphuric and bilious, the stench of billion corpses. “Never,” she says.
“Then you leave me no choice.” The Dark Lord swallows the light of the lantern, engulfing it until it is no more than a fragile shell against the infinite. The lantern shatters like a dried petal at the beat of wings as the Dark Lord takes his leave.
The Lady of the Mound becomes a shadow, deep and smooth. She closes her eyes, creates her own darkness, mourns for the light. For millennia, she holds in the loss, shielding herself from the infinite nothing with the infinite reality of her grief.
She trembles, opens her eyes, scans the emptiness, chokes down a tear. The shadow of the Dark Lord, somehow blacker than the blackness, approaches vulture-like as its wings ripple against the heavens.
“You have opened your eyes and I am here,” the Dark Lord says. “Embrace me.”
The Lady of the Mound turns. “Never,” she whispers.
The Dark Lord growls and rises through the infinite, leaving the Lady of the Mound with only her sorrow as reality.
In the silence, she sees the faintest of dots, a tiny glow darting like a dragonfly across the emptiness. She draws hope from its flight, watches as it bobs and whirls, iridescent against the eternal. There’s joy in that light. A second orb emerges, then a third and a fourth. Before long, the void is teeming with swarms of eddying lights, burning with love and happiness.
She draws from them, feeds into them. They expand and grow with each century. The lights drift towards her, coat her in brilliance and warmth. The void floods with her tears.
Time unhinges from itself when the Dark Lord returns. His wings bristle. His voice is filled with the pain of a thousand holocausts. “You have defied me,” he screams.
The lights flicker out with fear and the Dark Lord brushes their husks aside with his wings, returning everything to darkness. He offers his embrace, but the Lady of the Mound turns. The Dark Lord sighs a storm, then leaves.
“All is lost,” the Lady of the Mound says. “All is lost.”
She holds herself and listens for the Dark Lord’s return, watches for the lights. Neither come.
“I beseech thee. Return to me. I beg you to return. I will protect you.”
Centuries pass until the first light twinkles, dim at first, then bright white as it embraces the Lady of the Mound. More lights emerge and coil around her, filling her with love and brilliance.
She shudders as the Dark Lord returns.
“You dare to embrace light? You embrace me,” he says, spreading his monstrous arms.
The Lady of the Mound faces him, breathes out her light, brilliant and white. Its beam tears through the Dark Lord’s body, ripping off his limbs, slicing through his torso, searing his flesh and wings to nothingness. He falls into the light, nothingness in nothingness in nothingness, an infinite fractal shattering beyond the dust of dreams.
The lights embrace the Lady of the Mound. They warm her, protect her, become her.
This text is copyright 2016 by Jon Cronshaw, released under a BY-NC-ND Creative Commons Licence.