Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Night ride to the tree of crystal souls

I was delighted when the enchantress told us that this evening´s entertainment was to be a night ride to anywhere we wanted to go and that all we had to do, was go to the stables where our mounts would be waiting for us.
This was a dream come true, I would finally get to visit the tree of crystal souls.
It was dusk as I made my way down to the stables where a young groom came to greet me, but there was no horse in sight. Instead, he held out his hand towards me and gave me a little model of a horse. I held it up to one of the lanterns and saw the most beautiful little crystal horse. "In view of your destination tonight, it was felt that this would be the most suitable steed for you. Take the little crystal horse to the blind springs and place it with its head near the water. Whistle into the wind and your horse will come to you". My hand went automatically to the little bag that held my own little crystals. I did as instructed and whistled into the wind, whereupon a beautiful moon-glow coloured horse appeared out of the twilight. "I must ask if it's alright to bring Hiss with me" I thought, whereupon the animal nodded its magnificent head. I silently wished myself astride it and low and behold, there I was surveying the ground from a long way up! "Whither shall I carry you, mistress?” it asked. "To the tree of crystal souls, if you please". "Hold on to my mane, it will take us a while to get there. We will be flying through the sunset curtain." I wrapped Hiss carefully around my waist. He would be safe there and would keep me warm if we were going to be flying through the stratosphere.
Ash flexed its knees gently. "Ready?". I squeezed my knees against its warm sides in reply and Hiss gave me a reassuring squeeze just for good measure. Thank goodness I had wrapped my hands into Ash’s mane for the gravity thrust almost dislodged me. We seemed to shoot up and up and I could hardly breathe. After what could only have been about 30 seconds Ash stopped its upward course and we levelled out over the top of the clouds. I could see the moon and stars high above me. I had no idea what sort of distance we covered but we started to descend through pearl-pink clouds and seemed to be heading towards the sun in one of the most dramatic sunsets I had ever seen. As we got closer, Ash said "this is where we fly through the sun, hold on". We seemed to hurtle towards the heart of the sun and the walls rose up blood-red and glowing around me. Then all of a sudden we popped through.
We were on top of a sheer cliff. Waves crashed around the rocks at the base and there was one single tree, leaning at an angle, some way back from the cliff edge. Ash landed a little way away from the tree and I dismounted. It walked away to graze, leaving me to stand in breathless awe of the tree. The tree of crystal souls is so named for the souls of those drowned at sea in shipwrecks on that particular bit of coastline, have taken refuge there. They cannot be buried in the ground and have to remain in sight of the sea. Each soul is encapsulated within a crystal. I had been afraid that I would see horrible images of people drowning but when I got closer to the tree I could see that there were fruit hanging on the tree. I gently touched a cluster of grapes and realised that each crystal grape shape contained a face. Individual fruit contained a single face. Ash had walked softly up behind me and nuzzled my shoulder. "The clusters of fruit contain families or crews and the single fruit contain the souls of single sailors". I shuddered a bit, thinking about all those people who had drowned in the pounding surf far below but the faces were peaceful and contained in a thing of beauty. They had found some comfort from their horrible manner of dying. Ash explained to me that, at night, each crystal fruit was illuminated from within. From a distance the tree looked like a swarm of fireflies but distances were deceptive and the tree now served as a sort of beacon for the lights could be seen from far away and sailors steered their craft in the opposite direction.
I was full of thought as I remounted Ash and we made our way back through the sunset curtain.

(The legend of Amethyst begins with the grape. To protect the nymph Amethyst from the advances of Bacchus, god of wine, the goddess Diana turned her into a sparkling gem.)


At 2:28 PM, Blogger Anita Marie Moscoso said...

This was very clever and I really enjoyed reading this story! I can't wait to see what comes next...
Anita Marie

At 8:58 PM, Blogger Gail Kavanagh said...

I love your horse, Traveller - a horse of dreams indeed, and how well you describe your adeventure with her.

At 4:12 PM, Blogger Believer said...

What a beautiful idea turning the souls to crystal. You've a nice way with fantasy, Traveller. Love the picture, too. Gosh, if I'd seen it, I would have bought it!

At 11:52 PM, Blogger Traveller said...

It's a beautiful picture isn't it. Amazing what you can find on the internet! Now you've got me wondering if I haven't already got a glass horse my collection of glass animals - I'm off to look.


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