The Rare One
Amelia walks through the dark, windswept streets of London, with only the howl of the wind as company and the vibrating globe of a vessel in her hand. Shinning with all of its energy into the gloom of the night like its calling to her and trying to be noticed all at the same time. She forces herself on, bracing heavily against the gails, her long ebony hair whipping around her face in an almost beautiful yet stinging dance. She weaves her way through the dark, mostly unlit back allies trying with everything she has to be as unnoticeable as she possibly can be. She hunkers down into the gutter as she hears someone walk close by from another ally. Her breath betrays her and plumes out in front in huge gusts of mist and she frantically flutters her hand in front of her face, trying to erase it from the air. She stops breathing, hoping whoever it is, down the adjacent ally, will walk away and she will remain unnoticed.
She waits for a few minutes more and when all there is is silence she stands back up, wrapping her cloak back around herself and off she sets onto her exact earlier route. To the tower the people of London call "Harmony of life'. Amelia has always thought this is quite ironic considering the village folk are so very close to the truth, yet so utterly unaware of it, all at the same time.
She finally makes her way to the tower and it is only then that she feels she can breathe again. She has made it, unnoticed. She pushes the heavy wooden door open with a large amount of effort and in she goes, into silence and slight warmth in what feels like days to her.
She leans against the door for a few moments, retrieving her breathe but regardless to the fact that every inch of her humility is screaming at her, telling her to return to her village it doesn't matter because she has to do this. Has to fulfil her worth, her destiny; it doesn't even feel like an active choice for her it is that ingrained into who she is. Just like the natural instinct a dog has to defend its own territory, it started somewhere, so long ago yet it still runs through every one you will ever come across. It is the same for Amelia and her people, this is their calling.
She begins her ascent up the many wet, stone steps in front of her, all the while trying to ignore the vibration from the vessel in her hand. She needs to not think of it in that way, she needs to believe she is doing the right thing, completely.
She reaches the top and pushes the hatch above her open. She pulls herself up and stands in front of the insides of the enormous north facing clock in the tower. She studies it for a moment, looking at the intricate arms, cogs and more, wishing that's all it was. Just some ordinary clock but of course now she knows the truth of it she can't possibly look at it any other way than the monster that it really is. A mechanical feeding fiend disguised as a lavish clock tower, set in the very heart of medieval London where all can see it, even tour it. It is the perfect hiding place of course, in plain sight, who would expect that?
She slowly steps towards it with trembling hands and an even shakier heart. She tries to breathe and tries so hard not to care but in the end of course she does because how do you ignore your own nature? You can't. As soon as she knew the truth of this grey tower and its wondrous gold burnished clock face she had felt appalled for her people and sickened by the tale of her very own ancestry. But now as she stands before the very thing that had disgusted her all those months ago she still cannot stop her hand from rising. She still can't prevent herself from doing what is expected of her because she is a Manol, through and through. She is one of the people trusted to keep this tower maintained, working perfectly and of course, hush-hush. You see once someone reaches adulthood in this town, it varies from person to person on what age precisely it happens but around this time they will stop aging. They can walk around as a thirty something for eternity and never experience a grey hair, wrinkle or aching back. They are untouchable in every sense. The people know this of course and utterly embrace it but no one questions it. "It's a gift from the lord" they will say and that answer is always enough for them, how could it not be? They have been granted immortality; would you integrate such a thing? So these people have lived within their own lovely, pain free, deathless existence for centuries and they still do not know of the Manol. The very people that have been ordered for hundreds of years to keep them alive by harvesting mortal souls from other towns and sending the essence of it out into these people via the clock tower. They have no clue what so ever of the sacrifice paid for their collective "gift' and all because of some silly spell casting mistake. And now no one knows how to take it away without killing the whole town. Again quite ironic, Amelia thinks to herself.
She slots the bright blue shimmering vessel into position in the centre of the clock and she braces herself, watching with a quiet, debilitating silence as the hands click slowly to midnight. The sound seems to ring out and echo into the damp darkness of the tower only adding to her sense of trepidation.
She begins to count in her head as way of distraction and as the clock is three seconds to midnight she sucks her breath in and holds it, unable to move or feel.
The clock chimes at twelve o'clock and again she counts in her head, her body trembling with the first signs of her own panic and on the last strike the vessel rotates upside down and the shimming blue contents slithers downwards, soaking into the reverse of the clock. There is a vibration that shatters through the air and then light; it builds and builds until eventually the tower resembles something of a light house. The blue light hits its crescendo and bursts out through the walls of the tower as if the solid material of the bricks does not even exist to it and out into the night like a pulsed, shock wave of light. Out over everything that is London and soaking into every house until eventually it would reach the people. There it will soak into the very fibre of them, replenishing what is missing like some "elixir of life' and I guess that isn't so inaccurate at all.
The atmosphere rings with electricity and vibrating activity for a few moments and all Amelia can do is try to breathe through the heaviness of the air, her chest heaving with the effort to do so.
She had done her duty but that does not satisfy the sickening guilt that bubbles inside of her as she imagines all of the hundreds of people lying comfortably in their beds, oblivious to the secret of their own immortality.
How would they react if they knew the truth?
She wonders. Would they curse the whole thing to damnation and take their mortality back the way God had given it or would they conspire with my own elders and help?
But either way she feels no better than anyone before her, just a thief in the night with one goal. To keep them all with their bounty - magical existence regardless to the price many, many people have paid and will continue to.
She wipes the moisture from her eyes and opens the hatch below her, lowering herself down. When she eventually hits the icy, smoking air of the night her tears rush un-relinquished down the sides of her face until eventually they mingle perfectly with the rain.
She rushes home. Her journey here had taken two days on foot, her family cannot afford anything as wonderful as a horse for her to carry out her "duty "so for now at least, she has to walk every week. Tonight though she would push for sooner for her return, she needed her friend, Sebastian.
She wraps her black sodden cloak around her and bears into the wind and rain with a renewed ambition of home. She tilts her face down, not really seeing anything other than her booted feet sloshing through the swamped muddy grass but that's fine because if she were to see the shining radiance of the town behind her that would just hurt more. She wants to forget what she had just caused, just until she gets home.
A few hours later and she settles down underneath a huge, aged Willow tree. The tree must be hundreds of years old, its wealth of width dominating the landscape behind her but height shrunken with age. She presses herself against the sharp bark as much as possible and pulls the hood of her cloak down over her face, trying to prevent the icy wind and rain lashing even more so against her already sore skin.
She does eventually drift into something resembling sleep but it is not long before she is woken by the rain again. She moves to her other side, letting the blood rush back into her extremities and that's when she sees her. First she notices her long shimmering white hair, the very shade of snow as it seems to radiate out into the pressing darkness. Then she sees her eyes, drowning pools of black, as startling as solid wells of oil but Amelia is not surprised by this woman's unusually beautiful yet shocking appearance because she had been expecting her.