The carriage stops and the horses let out a high pitch yelp. End of the line. We get out, we stretch, we breath in deeply. The horses pull the carriage to the stone structure, identical to the structure on the other side of the desert, hundreds of miles away. And as the carriage enters, the blue flames on either side of the threshold flicker and die out.
We look to the sky. The moon is full, bright as the sun, a sun we do not remember. The wind carries a cool breeze, brushing across our body, past the desert boundry where it will vaporize into nothingness. We have a few hours before the sun will rise and there’s nothing but flat land as far as the eye can see. We need to find cover, quickly.
We move swiftly, sprinting. We’re struggling. All that time in the carriage made us lazy. But should we slow our progress, the sun will devour us in flames. We press on, harder with each step we take. Each step we take becomes harder.
We see it. It’s about five miles away. It looks like a mound of sand in the darkness. Hopefully this mound will provide us with sufficiant cover from the sun.
Two miles now.
The dawn is on our back. The sky becomes a soft, velvet yellow. I’m yelling “Go, go!” I doubt The Voice can hear me but it knows that if we don’t put every bit of effort into reaching the mound, this sunrise will be our sunset.
The sunlight strecthes across the desert, racing towards us. We see the details of a sand mound that really isn’t one. It is a huge rocky formation with some sort of fortification at its peak. Yes, it is a tower, perhaps a hundred feet tall and a wall surrounding it. Behind us, the first rays of sunlight lift off the desert floor.
Half a mile to go.
This will be close. We begin a subtle climb that is barely noticeable. Above us, a circle of desert vultures wait for our demise. One swoops in, teasing us as we reach the rocks. We climb, pulling ourselves up, grabbing jagged rock after jagged rock. It, The Voice yells out in desperation. It is a plead to the sky to retain the sun. A futile attempt.
I make my peace. I try to remember the good times. I try to hold on to those memories and nothing else. I try to turn to face the sun with arms stretched out, ready to embrace its warmth. I am ready. I… am… ready…
I… we fall into a cave on the side of the hill just as the horizon releases its hold of the sun. We lay motionless, catching our breath and letting our throbbing, aching limbs cool down in the dark, brisk air of the cave. And then we sleep. I do not remember the last time we slept. It is a dreamless sleep. Nothing but a black void, a lapse in time. Nothing but a minute of unconciousness, so it seems.
It is noon when we awaken from the void. We peek outside and see not a single shadow out in the desert landscape. We stare out at the blank world for a while and I reflect on our journey so far. I still do not understand the point of all this or what it is that The Voce wants me to see. I dare not ask for I am a bit afraid of what the answer may be. My thoughts drift further back. Back to where I was in the comfort of my family.
Die Nachthexen. It’s amazing how I would leave them, their world where I was praised, fed, nurtured. I had status, I had power. I had an army at my command. I could point and where I pointed they would kill. They would kill for me and yes, I would kill for them. But I left them. Perhaps I feared that if I didn’t, some of those terrible things I found myself doing, I found myself enjoying, would be directed onto them. I loved them too much to hurt them. I doubt it matters much now. My absense alone has hurt them. Forgive me Mirren.
I wonder, what it is The Voice is thinking about at this moment.
We venture into the cave, which I now realize is really a tunnel carverd ceturies ago. It is a dark path with many twists, many turns, but The Voice leads us through it like it has been here before. The path turns into a straight incline where at the end, we see a flicker of light. We walk towards the light, eyes fixed at the glow.
Things become clearer. Things become familiar.
There is a point when the line becomes so blurred that you no longer see it. It fades, it blends into everything else and becomes everything else. And when you cross that line, you never realize that you did because you no longer see it.
We exit the tunnel, entering a stone room. Light filters in through the large slits, high in the walls. There are crates, splintered and broken, scattered about. This was a storage room back when this fortress was occupied all those centuries ago. To our right is a doorway with a stone stairway beyond it. We climb it, spiraling up the tower. As we climb, The Voice releases its hold of our body. We stutter at first, taking awkwards steps. I regain control and stop. This may be the moment for escape. But I do not take it. I proceed up the stairs. We’ve gone this far. No need to turn and run now.
We reach the top of the tower and enter the room at its peak. Before us is an arched opening. Beyond that is the desert sky, blue, cloudless, beautiful. As we approach the opening to see the world from ontop of this citadel, the curtain in my mind falls and hundreds of years of memories flood my eyes. I grasp my head in shock and fall to my knees. It’s a mess in there. Fragments, puzzle pieces, waiting to be put together. I hear The Voice tell me to slow down and breath. I do as I’m told. I close my eyes and breath.
The pieces come together. Slowly, I begin to see the bigger picture. The bigger picture: who I was, who I am.