by Pascal Dansereau
Unseeing eyes of disturbed sleep . . .
Ravan of the Realm of Shades approached the lone figure sitting on a nearby rock, surrounded by endless fields of rich green grass. He paused within arms reach of the woman calmly resting in front of him, observing her with something approaching warmth for him. She had long coppery hair streaked silver pleasing to the eyes. Her face was turned away from him at the moment but he knew that had she been looking at him he would have seen agelessness and deep wisdom in a face speaking of great knowledge mixed with infinite beauty. Time's own eyes were dangerous, even for one such as he, Ravan the Unraveller. He showed no surprise witnessing her in the shape of her children, the earthbound. That shape was now cloaked in a long flowing robe of sky blue with ribbons of pure white, like a cloud pattern passing by.
Humans, so much weakness and limitations yet so appealing. Their senses, their perception, pleasure and pain, all so intoxicating. Ravan the Ancient himself was now in such form, looking at the landscape he finally spoke.
"Helia." He said in a raspy but not unpleasant voice.
She had seemed oblivious to his arrival, showing no sign of even knowing he was there. Now even after he spoke, Helia of the White Hands did not react. She had been aware of his presence for some time already, just like she knew he could sense her. The silence stretched when finally she leaned her head to the side, not quite turning toward him.
"Ravan, your thoughts are chaos, do your tasks trouble you so?" She said in a musical voice.
Ravan allowed himself a smile.
"Nay lady, death suits me fine."
This time she did turn completely toward him, fixing her gaze on him, her eyes were the color of the earth, calm. He had taken the shape of a tall, large man, his hair was the color of smoke but his features where those of someone in his prime. His hands were hidden in the sleeves of his ample grey cloak which covered his body and was tied only by a simple rope belt. He returned her gaze his eyes dark.
"Why have you come?" Helia the Giver asked him.
"Do I need a reason?" Was his response after a time.
"No." The musical voice conceded.
Again silence stretched out, yet neither shape seemed bothered. Helia of All Seasons was contemplating something only her eyes could see while Ravan her consort watched her with his midnight eyes. A trio of bluebirds formed on the horizon coming quickly. The space before the two shapes was suddenly filled by a riot of movement and sharp thrills of excited birds. One of the bluebirds landed on the outstretched hand of the Mother, gracing her with his exuberant singsong. A second bird landed deftly on the shoulder of the unconcerned Gray Man, immediately it shuddered and turned ghostly white before taking off again. A spasm of pain marred Helia's feature before she let her hand fall. All three birds, two blue and one white, turned as one and left for the horizon whence they came from.
"Must it be . . ." Helia asked, her eyes briefly closing for a deep breath.
Ravan took a step forward as she rose from her seat, their surroundings blurred . . .
They were standing in a long hallway made of large cut stone. The grey stone was remarkably shaped by what must have been very skillful hands indeed, the wall rose to a dizzy height curving until opposing walls touched to form the vaulted ceiling above. One wall, the one Helia of the Mysterious Smile was facing, had thin windows at regular intervals of a few feet through which a brilliance shone. This wall also had banners between each opening on which could be seen scenes from the lives of humans, each banner stopped inches above a plain wooden door. The opposing wall also contained windows, one section removed from its facing counterpart, no light here but darkness occasionally disturbed by a silvery flash. Where the banners should have been, lists of names written in runic symbols could be seen. These symbols also stopped inches from a plain wooden door. This was the Hall of Time and Memory.
"Welcome to my home." Ravan Lord of the Dead rasped sketching a graceful bow.
Helia Mistress of Life chuckled softly.
"Has Invex or the others bent their heads to you my dear? Surely they have as much claim to this place as you." She said lightly although her eyes had gained the quality of troubled waters.
"The others," he snorted. "Aera and Lucifal are fond of this shape and concern themselves too much of the humans, involving themselves in their affairs so that they can't tend the Hall."
Ravan paused to consider the shape in front of him before going on.
"Invex is not far behind his brethren when it comes to walking the earth, that is when the fool is not at your feet or Aera's, blind to his surroundings."
Helia cut him off, fiery red streaks showing in her eternal eyes, "Do not make the mistake of considering him weak, Ravan, and memory does belong to him."
The Unraveller simply shrugged.
They were interrupted as a shape appeared within the Hall. It was what appeared to be a young boy, his eyes were large with fright and focused on something neither of them could see but both knew what it was. The boy started running down the Hall as fast as short legs could take him, driven by emotion. At last he wasn't fast enough, turning he yelled once before being hurled across the passage by an unseen force striking the darker wall. The shape vanished.
"It wasn't his time." The musical voice said, sadness apparent in her voice.
"No, one of us intervened." Ravan stated coldly.
Helia only nodded to the obvious, her eyes were locked on a previously blank space on the wall were a runic name was drawing itself. The Hall of Memory and Time was momentarily flooded with light and color which disappeared with the far away sound of a door opening and closing. A single tear trickled down her ivory cheek.
"All come to me eventually great Helia. Warriors die, beauty and love is lost, even dreams eventually end. This is my doorstep." He said the last with a quick gesture to mask a sudden spasm at the thought of Lucifal the Shadow. He knew it was futile because his thoughts would have betrayed him but he nevertheless repeated to himself that all came to him in due time.
"Be careful Ravan, even we are not immune against madness." She warned.
Caught off guard, he barked out a sudden sharp laugh. The sound carried easily up the vaulted ceiling and down the stone hall. When it finally died down it had gained a disturbing quality. As the last notes of his mirth danced off the stones, Helia's eyes flashed, glancing sharply at Ravan the Unraveller.