An illustrated short story written and illustrated by Christine Turley
Fairy magic, dragons, strange creatures and an island that is truly alive.
A word from the Author: Chapters of the fantasy short story will be released as they are written and illustrated.Creating images and words to go together has been a whole new kind of hell. Especially since I’m rubbish at drawing people. I would love to know your opinion so please drop me an email.
A magic creature lost long ago is said to be the key to end the war. An ancient magic to rival all else. Not all is what it seems. Oriana will need to keep her head to figure out why the search for the creature has lead her to the Island of Ramichi.
From the beach, the Langour Jungle looks inviting. Green, rich, full of life. Well worn paths lead you in, making you believe that the Island is worth visiting. As you enter the jungle, lush green foliage fades to brown, dry and dead forest. Accompanied by a stifling heat, you immediately figure out the journey is going to be anything but fun. The damp thick brush lining the entry paths gives way to thorn covered vines that sprawl across the entire forest floor. It’s as though the paths were made by the island itself to lure unsuspecting victims to their death. For all I knew, they were, this island after all is what legends are made of. The history of our world is riddled with tales of Ramichi and those who have dared to conquer the jungle. Of the few that have managed to return from the island, none have come back the same.
Stumbling through the soul sucking, dark, oppressive jungle, I couldn’t help but curse at the irony. Searching for some extinct (possibly imaginary) magic creature, was not dissimilar to what my life now resembled. Stumbling through, searching for a flame, a spark, an ember. Anything that would breathe life back into the cold, empty shell that was my heart and soul. Even pain would be welcome. The numbness had now been with me for so long. I don’t remember what sadness feels like, nor glee, peace or even pride. I remember the day all of those feelings vanished. It was the last time I felt something, it was so excruciating it crippled me.
I remember the time, the place, who was there, the looks on everyone’s faces and even where the sun was in the sky. Every detail vivid, every colour, the room, I could paint you a picture. What I no longer remember is how it FELT. I remember crumbling to the ground. I knew that the pain must have been so severe I couldn’t breathe, the loss so great I couldn’t bare it. In that moment a large part of me died. I knew in that moment, I would never feel the same again. A black hole of nothingness, cold and dark crushed and chained my soul. Bound forever, never to be free.
I can’t tell you the last time I felt joy, like the birth of a new baby warm, fill my heart and set fire to my soul with the most euphoric glow, nor peace like a gentle stream meandering it’s way through the land. I feel nothing, I didn’t even feel the knife in my back when it came.
So why do you ask am I on this mission? Well, I’m still asking myself the same question. The Langour Jungle is notorious for the number of victims it’s claimed. It was foolish of me to think that I would be able to make it out of here alive. Maybe that was why I was here? I didn’t think I was suicidal, maybe this is my subconscious helping me out of this despair I find myself in every single day of my life? The Forrest’s magic didn’t have it’s usual effect on me. I was used to not feeling anything so I was the perfect candidate to go hunting for lost fairy magic that no longer existed. Anyone else would have been driven mad by the jungles’ magic. Ridiculous and pointless was my life, it didn’t bother me if I lived or died.
The only thing that kept me on my mission, stopping me from wandering forever in this forest was the only thing I did feel anymore. The one thing I could rely on to remind me I was still breathing. Rage. I certainly didn’t choose rage. When I was young, it certainly wasn’t a feeling I was used to. It had been forced upon me. I would sure as hell use it to my advantage, I would use it to accomplish my goal. I would use it to burn those bastards to the ground. Myself along with them if need be. I hoped then, I would feel something.
The bracken, fallen branches and the incredibly sharp and thorny vines hurt like hell when they hit you in the shins (you know what I said about pain being welcome – scratch that) made travelling through this jungle more than arduous. The distance I’d travelled had to have been minimal. I’d started sweating almost the moment I entered the jungle, it hadn’t let up it’s punishing terrain since. That was almost half a day ago. I would need to find water, food and shelter soon. I would at least need somewhere safe to rest. I wasn’t sure I was game enough to sleep. The island wasn’t that big, surely it wouldn’t take me much longer to reach its centre.
Although the island seemed lifeless, animals of some sort could be heard in the distance. Up until this point they had remained elusive.
A strong breeze rustled the dead leaves of the canopy. Not a single leaf fell. It was though they were alive. That breeze brought the smell of rain. Looking up, through the small gaps in the canopy I could see dark grey clouds coming in from the north west. An electrical storm was fast approaching. It would be upon me in less than an hour. I needed to find shelter. Fast.
Ramichi didn’t have seasons. The climate here was a direct reflection of the world. Our world. Currently we were at war. Our people had been for centuries. Although now it felt like the power was tipping to favour one race above the rest. The war was more violent. There were more deaths, more destruction. That was how it seemed. Judging by the hostility the island was dishing up I think my assumption was correct. Storm clouds built, promising to make my little adventure even more fun. In case you missed it, that was sarcasm.
“Who’s there?” I spun around, my hand immediately goes to my knife. I look to the tops of the tree to the thick brush, trying to pin point where the high pitched squeak that I keep hearing is coming from. Who’s’s there? Really Ori, that’s what we are going with?
“OUCH!” I quietly swear to myself, slowly pulling out the vines that have just made a pin cushion out of my right thigh. As I’m pulling the little pricks from my cloak I hear it again, I glance up. I know I’m not alone, I know it’s not a human that is keeping me company, but what is it? I’ve never heard such a tormented squawk. I notice that there is a lot of my blood on the vines I’m holding. Looking closer, it appears that my blood is slowly disappearing. It seems that the vines are literally soaking my blood up. Vampire vine. Fantastic.
Too sum the trip up so far, vines that literally suck the life out of you, a creepy stalker animal …. Just as I’m about to finish that sentence lightning pulses across the sky followed very closely by a loud wallop of thunder. Nice. Or as my best friend Kendra would have said when we were having a bad day – “That’s just sad.” A pang of grief hits my heart at the memory of her. Surprising, I haven’t felt that in a long time. This trip just gets better and better. Instead of turning me into a zombie (like the jungle does to most people) it’ll turn me into a blubbering mess who can’t do anything but feel. Now wouldn’t that be a bitch.
There it is again. This is starting to drive me insane. Moving forward, I try to block out the noise. It hasn’t attacked yet, maybe it won’t? Sure. I tell myself, taking a calming deep breath to try to settle the ball of anxiety and fear churning in my stomach. I have bigger problems, the lightning is getting more frequent, the winds are picking up. I need to find shelter.