Winters of Despair

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Winters of Despair
Yasmine Sealy, copyright 12/12/98


She stood in a field of the dead. The bodies of enemies and allies alike lay scattered like children’s forgotten rag-dolls. Overhead, the sky was ebony, unbroken except for streaks of rust colored lightning, which tinged everything the color of blood. The cold fingers of fear slowly wound their way up her spine and wrapped themselves around her heart. Before her stood her greatest love and deadliest enemy.
The man, dressed primarily in black, was young, tall, and heavily muscled. He stood stock-still, statuesque; the only movement came from a small bundle held in the crook of his right arm. His dark brown eyes were cold and lifeless, as he stared at the woman. There was no humanity left in those eyes, no spark of warmth, no hint of the love they had once shared. She recoiled from his dead gaze, taking an unsteady step back. The small bundle increased its movements until a chubby pink arm had worked itself free. Slowly, like a marionette, the man raised his free hand above the child. A sickly carrion yellow glow engulfed the upraised hand, faint at first, but rapidly intensifying. The baby began to wail. A terrible feeling of dread built up in the pit of her stomach; fear tightened its grip. The man never took his eyes off the woman, as his lips began to move.
“Murderer,” he whispered, and brought his glowing hand down to destroy the child.
“No!!” she screamed. Tears streamed down her face, as she raised both arms, palms upward, towards the young warrior. A ribbon of energy streaked forth. “Forgive me!”
“Never,” he replied, letting the child fall from his arms. His body erupted in mystic fire, when the blast struck. “My wife, my…”
“…murderer!”

The Sorceress of Greyskull awoke with a start. Her body, bathed in a cold sweat, shook uncontrollably; her breath came in short gasps. She sat up and ran a shaking hand through the long reddish-gold hair that clung to her face in damp ringlets. She tried to get hold of herself, to banish the nightmare images. She squeezed her eyes shut and willed her trembling body to stillness, her breathing to normal. Gradually, the images began to fade, but in their wake remained a vast emptiness and an aching in her heart. When she opened her eyes, she was struck by the coldness of her surroundings, the indifference. Castle Greyskull’s unfeeling stone walls cared nothing for her pain, cared nothing for her sorrow.
Wrapping a blanket about her, the Sorceress rose and made her way across the moonlit bedroom to a nearby chair sitting before the room’s only window. Wearily, she sank down and gazed at the forest that lay beyond the barren plain surrounding the ancient castle. Her freedom lay beyond that forest, her freedom and... The aching in her heart intensified; loneliness wrapped its cold arms around her, drawing her into its bosom as though they were lovers. The Sorceress allowed herself to sink into its embrace, to let the loneliness and pain consume her and draw her into their inky depths. She felt herself slipping further and further into darkness. Shutting her eyes, she let herself fall. Perhaps in oblivion, she would find peace.
“Sorceress, stop!”
Her body jerked violently, as the thought burst into her mind, dragging her away from the blessed darkness. Desperately, she tried to free herself from the other presence’s grip, to return to peaceful forgetfulness, but it was too strong. With an anguished cry, she was dragged back into the cruel light of day.
“Please, Spirit,” she begged. “Let me go.”
“You know I cannot do that,” the Spirit of Greyskull replied softly, his face materializing out of the darkness to hover a few feet from her. His head was a bald glowing red. Where his eyes should have been there were only dark shadows. “Do not give in to the sadness, my friend. Do not let it conquer you.”
“I am tired, Spirit. No matter how hard I fight, the pain always returns; I cannot leave it behind. All I want is freedom from the loneliness and suffering. It is all I ask. Won’t you at least grant me that?”
Her only reply was silence.
“I thought not,” the Sorceress said quietly, bowing her head and wrapping the blanket more tightly about her.
The Spirit of Greyskull watched her sadly, searching for words of comfort, but found none. He felt her sorrow and wanted it to end as much as she did, but he was forbidden to interfere, to do so would upset the course of the universe. Suddenly, an idea occurred to him.
Concentrating, the Spirit of Greyskull created a body for himself. Tall and very muscular, it resembled a normal Eternian male’s, except in color. His body was red, the same color as his previously bodiless head. Granted, it was only an illusion, but it was real to the touch, and would suit his purpose.
He walked up to the woman sitting huddled in the blanket and stood before her. He gently placed his hand beneath her chin and lifted her face towards him. Her eyes widened in surprise at his appearance. The Spirit of Greyskull smiled and took her hand, lifting her from her seat and into his arms. He held her as a father would his beloved child, tenderly, lovingly. The Sorceress clung to him, laying her head on his chest, tears running down her face. A great shudder passed through her body, as the pain threatened to engulf her once more. She braced herself for its onslaught, but it never came. Instead, the pain slowly ebbed, then began to fade, replaced by an overwhelming sense of peace. It flooded her mind and body, easing her suffering, banishing the nightmarish images that so haunted her. The Sorceress closed her eyes and gave herself up, her body falling limp in his arms. Carefully, the Spirit of Greyskull lifted the sleeping woman and held her against his body, letting his inner peace continue to wash over her. He stood with her in the moonlight for several minutes letting it bathe her pain-riddled soul; then, he carried her back to her bed and gently laid her down. Her breathing remained slow and even, as he retrieved the forgotten blanket and covered her. He pushed a stray lock of hair from her face, bent, and brushed his lips against her forehead. She was at peace, if only temporarily.
“I can, at least, grant you this,” he said and faded into the darkness.



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