At first I thought I was dead. Clearly I wasn’t.
Instead I found myself trapped within an inside-out world, filled with dark forests and swamp lands. The sky was black with only a few stars hanging around in the middle of the world. I walked for hours and hours, looking for a town or small village, but no community of any sort seemed to sit nearby. Up above, through the sky and across the world, however, dozens upon dozens of villages could be seen hanging off the other side of the world, visible, thanks only to the torches and fires that the world folk had lit.
Eventually, after walking for many more hours – which felt like days – I finally stumbled across a group of men and women who were crying and huddling around trees, and whispering to them…?
I think they were saying this:
Help us Communion,
Don’t leave us here to rot,
Help us Communion,
We’re in the dark,
We’ve been abandoned, please don’t abandon us,
Help us Communion, help us, save us,
Like usual, curiosity got the better of me and I approached them. I asked them why they were crying?
Their reply: “The Communion, our holy government… They’ve left us in the dark and taken our sun and moon from us. They took our happiness and our light. And they left us with sorrow, despair and darkness. We need them. And with no light, our trees and plants are dying. The lands are decaying. And we are all suffering. The food crops have vanished from lack of peace among us all. The Communion, they must return, or we’ll rot and disintegrate from existence.”
So I asked them: “How long have you been like this? And what do you mean ‘left in darkness?’ Doesn’t the sun come up?”
They answered: “No. The Sun and Moon were taken from us. They’ve [The Communion Government] left us with only the Stars in the sky. And even they are growing tired. The Stars are dying. There used to be thousands of them, but over the years, they’ve fallen from lack of rest. They’ve burned out and died. Our world is crumbling.”
Another one answered my first question: “We believe it has been decades.”
After a while, the two strangers asked me my name, so I told them: “I am the daughter of Busbernith Bee.” My mother always warned me never to reveal my own name.
The man and woman were understanding, but shocked because of my heritage.
They said to me: “Your mother is Busbernith Bee? The Ditcher Heirophant of the World of Scorpio? The Traitor of the Communion and the Seven Worlds!”
I didn’t know, and that’s what I told them.
They began to talk among themselves.
Man: “We must take her to the Headmaster.”
Woman: “The Headmaster? Are you sure?”
Man: “Yes. This is a sign of hope, and when word gets out, the Communion will return. They’ll be interested in what she knows about the… thing.”
Woman: “But would they protect her?”
Man: “Better than most, I presume. She’s the daughter of a politician. I think we ought to escort her to the Dobbingson Palace.”
So they escorted me to the Dobbingson Palace, taking me far and wide, across the bush-land forests and mud flats. I expect it must have taken days of journeying to reach the Dobbingson Palace.
The castle was massive, built with blue stone bricks, fitted with glass windows all throughout, and lit by thousands of torches and candles. It lacked the basic security of a mote though, which I’d always assumed was a castle necessity! Instead, the Dobbingson Palace sits within a wide clearing, surrounded by a line of trees.
The folk led me into the castle doors and through the palace hallways. It was very dark and empty inside, and lacked the magical feel to it that I’d always imagined castles would have. Very few people seemed to walk the hallways that night, and those who did all wore covering cloaks of black and blue.
I was taken to the Headmaster’s Hall where a blonde and long haired man, dressed richly in expensive garments and breeches, stood, waiting for my arrival. My escorts introduced me to Headmaster Shaie.
“Is this the girl?” The Headmaster of Dobbingson Palace, asked.
“Yes,” my male escort answered.
“Child. Please tell me personally, where is it that you are from and who do you claim to be the child of?”
I replied: “From Oak Valley, and my mother is Busbernith Bee.”
Shaie nodded at his four guards, who were standing parallel around the room, “arrest the escorts, get them ready for execution, and lock the girl away. I shall send word out to the Communion, and they shall decide her fate.”
I watched the two lovely people get dragged away. They had helped me and kept me safe. I didn’t understand why they were being punished. And then I was taken away by guards and locked in the highest cell of the tallest tower, where I was expected to wait and sit, miserably, until the Communion returned, and that could have been another decade or more.