The air is warm with sunshine and cool with the wind coming off the water, carrying the salt of the sea on its currents. I breathe in the clear air and sigh forlornly, watching the water crash against the rocks below.
I absently hum the tune that has played in my mind almost as relentlessly as the whalesong-like call of the sea. I wish I remembered the words, or at least where I knew it from. Perhaps a port somewhere? Or maybe it is a song from my childhood? Like the lullaby, I remembered the other night on the bridge near Planu Heath.
Perhaps it does not matter, it is simply one more thing I do not know.
The tune fades from my lips and mind as the call again overwhelms my very being. I look out over the vast expanse of the water, eyes trailing to the horizon and the setting sun. I press a hand to my chest as the longing fills me and my heart thunders with a physical ache to be connected to the sea again...or was I ever? Am I simply delusional or is there something to this strange call? My eyes shut and I breathe deeply, I want so badly to know.
I stand, brushing off dirt and a light crust of salt from the air. My body totters on the edge of the cliff, the brink of sanity.
I take a few steps back, my soft soled boots leave imprints in the damp grass, marking where I have been and where I am going.
I shut my eyes again and take a breath to steel myself for what I must do.
I must know.
I open my eyes, watching as the setting sun touches the horizon, the world soon to be masked in night.
Words spoken aloud to convince myself; “This...this will work.”
I take a steadying step back before l charge forward, using the momentum of my run to propel me out into the air, sailing over the rocky cliffside and into the icy depths of the sea.
The water closes above my head as I sink to the seafloor. My mind is a distant, panicky thing as I struggle uselessly, water filling my lungs almost immediately. It takes precious little time for the world to go grey and dark around the edges. It feels unnatural to breathe it in, and yet right somehow. I feel the salt in the water sting my lungs. The last thought I have is of serene calmness as my mind fades from consciousness.
I awaken with a burbling gasp, drenched and trembling. I stagger to my feet from among the bedsheets, tripping down the steps and then I am outside again.
I shut my eyes and shake my head. I did not think it would be that easy.
There is a slight wheeze to my breath as I make my way back to the cliffside, a strange wet feeling in my lungs.
I force my legs to move as steady as I can, running with a staggering step and throwing myself over the cliff yet again.
As I plummet beneath the waves I look up, watching the surface world grow dark above me. The stars are the last to fade from my sight.
‘The stars are very beautiful, above the palace walls…’
I close my eyes and embrace the deep.
It will work...eventually.
I jolt awake with a hacking cough, seawater burning in my lungs and frustration bubbling in my heart; I touched the edges of something this time! But I am still not close enough.
Walking is harder this time, I have to pause and catch my breath, warding off a coughing fit as I make my way back to the cliff.
I stumble across the bridge leading to the cliff, almost not hearing the footsteps shadowing mine.
“What are you doing, lass?”
I close my eyes a moment before looking back to meet Nazor’s gaze. I tell him the truth, for it is all I have to offer in explanation for this madness. “I am trying to remember.”
I rest my hands on my knees, breathing deep. Almost there.
The look in his eyes...I glance away before I lose my nerve.
“I..look...do what you gotta do.”
I straighten up and nod without looking back. A deep breath to still my trembling limbs and I manage to stumble and leap over the edge, barely missing the rocks as I hit the water.
There is more than the burn of the salt in my lungs and throat this time around, my heart aches with something other than the incessant call that draws me to the water like a siren song...the pain and worry in his gaze haunts me as the world goes black once more.
Walking is now a chore. I fall down the stairs nearly, barely managing to keep a grip on the guardrail. I limp and stagger, leaning on walls and trees as I go, the burbling breath and cough near constant. It takes a while to get back to the cliff. Finally staggering across the bridge I drop to the ground and gasp for air, a wet, horse sound escaping my waterlogged throat.
“You should stop..”
“But...it...I feel like something is close…”
“You may not wake up.”
When did he get beside me? How long have I been trying to catch my breath?
I close my eyes. “Or I...or I might open my eyes and know who I am! I...I want to give you my name!”
That is the truth of it, what drives me back to my feet. I feel I have cheated him of knowing me. It is a silly useless thing, a name, but I want him to have it. I need him to have it. It is right. He is the dearest friend I have ever known, even without my memory I feel this is truth. He took a perfect stranger with no name under his wing and I am eternally grateful. I want to repay that kindness and give him an answer to that first of questions;
“What’s your name?”
He reaches out to stop me and my foolhardy desires, his words cutting deeply, “I don’t want to lose you if it’s just going to give me your name back...you’re not just a name to me.”
I know, I know, I know that in my heart, but…
“It’s not just that…” I shake my head and nearly pitch over as dizziness sends my world reeling, his hand on my arm keeping me upright. “..this...this is right...even as it drowns me, the water is right...I need to know.”
Why does this call drive me to the sea’s embrace where only death and the calming dark await me? Why tease me with hidden secrets and lost memories?
My eyes well with tears and I close them in a vain attempt to stop their fall.
“I do not want to hurt you, but I have to find the answers...I am sorry.”
A part of my heart cries out and breaks as he lets me go and steps away, a sigh in his voice.
“Alright...I’m not that selfish, lass…”
I catch his eye because I have to, I have to reassure him somehow. The smile I offer is more of a sorry excuse for a grimace, I can feel it stretching across my face like seaweed.
“This is right, I will be okay, I promise.”
Another sigh, Nazor falls back on the damp grass, just watching me with hollow eyes.
“Do what you have to do.”
I can only nod and clumsily throw my battered body over the side of the cliff, cutting my head on a rock as I hit the water. The pain in my heart wraps tighter, like a steel cord hell-bent on strangling it.
I shut my eyes and embrace the depths again.
I come awake again, choking and gasping.
“I...I had something there…” my voice is barely a coherent burble.
My vision is blurry as I struggle up and force my stiffened limbs to move. I manage something between a limp and a crawl, sliding down the steps and stumbling out into the night air.
In my near blindness, I almost fall over a cliff just off the path. I try uselessly to wipe the water out of my eyes with sodden sleeves to no avail.
I stare bleary-eyed at the sea far below and ponder if I should just throw myself off here, where Nazor will not have to see.
My heart pinches in pain and I shake the notion away, falling to my side. That would be dishonorable. I would be sparing no one but myself.
It is a new sort of torment to make myself walk, but somehow I manage, breathing laboriously and taking frequent stops as I make my way back.
Nearly to the bridge and my legs give way. Breathing shallow, my vision dancing with spots. This...is not good. I have to-
I still at the hand on my shoulder, looking up to find Nazor there.
“Al-almost there,” I blurt, my voice a wet rasp. “I...I feel it…”
My eyes are too bad to be sure...but I think he looks at me in resignation.
“Alright. Let’s go one last push.”
Before my sluggish mind can process what he means by that, I am lifted into the air, cradled in his arms. I can do little more than cling to him weakly as he carries me the rest of the way.
“Do a flip.”
I laugh, the sound choked and broken. Resting my head on his shoulder, I fight the urge to cry, but my strength is almost gone. So I simply embrace the tears as they fall unbidden.
He holds me over the cliff’s edge, his face twisted in something like loathing, at me or himself? I do not know.
A voice calls out from what feels a long ways off, I do not hear the words. Nazor answers them in an angry shout. I cannot focus on their exchange, only his eyes when he turns his attention back to me.
“It is okay,” I manage in a whisper. My fingers touching his cheek in a light caress.
The yelling grows louder, the voice, it sounded like the healer...what was his name again? My mind is too foggy to recall. All my remaining thoughts are transfixed on this moment, this space between life and death where the truth will come to light; will I find the answers I crave? Or do I face oblivion?
Nazor’s expression does not change, his eyes are hard with disgust twisting his facial features at what he is about to do for me. I see no sign of emotion until my eyes focus on a single tear running down his face. I have to fight the sudden urge to cling to him and tell him to stop, to tell him he is right and it does not matter. But it does matter. The call is in my very bones and I must answer or be driven to insanity.
I make myself let go at the same moment he does the same. As I fall over the edge, I do not close my eyes, I cannot. If this is the last thing I see before the water claims me so be it. If I do not survive...then may I live in eternity with naught but my guilt and foolishness for company. The world seems to slow as I fall and I find myself smiling at him, trying to fill it with every emotion; gratitude, adoration, fear, acceptance, sadness...and something more I have no chance to put a name to as the waves close over my head and I vanish beneath them one last time.
Spoiler: ooc and link to part twoShow