The Tale of Ana

The following is an early unedited chapter from Book Two of the Phantammeron, the dream-like section called the Anakrasitra.

The dreamer-of-the-seas had returned to peaceful slumber. But in the depths of the Dreaming Seas, unbeknownst to An, would a child be born to her. For in a distant time when she was young a troubled spirit had come to her, spying her from a place beyond her troubled shores, eyeing her lovely face and form as they shimmered beneath the shadowy waves.

For Agapor, her brutal half-brother, had found An hidden in the ocean depths. By violent means he had come with many armies to part the waves and by force take her from her secret bed beneath the waves, her mother’s ocean prison. But from temptation unforeseen he had lain with the dreaming maiden, so that by Agapor’s savage act and forbidden seed he gave to her a child, the sea-girl named Ana.

Upon a time long after the seas had returned to calm An held her baby close to her. For she feared that Agapor would return to claim her as his own. And so Mother and child slept for a time hidden in the sleepy depths far from prying eyes. For they were bound safely within the ocean’s loving arms, concealed beneath the towering waves of foam and spray which none would ever dare to part.

But upon a midnight hour An was awakened by a distant sound. For there whispered upon the winds beyond the misty woods of Phantaia a familiar voice. That being came calling for the cherished child. But it was the voice of a loving spirit whom An had remembered from distant days when she was just a babe. For her father, the Twilight Mist, had come to that lonely shore again, he whose purple fogs now crept about the shadows when evening’s first shade would fall.

He it was who first set the Doors of Evening to open upon the applewood, fashioning from Nemedd’s Lands of Mist the very rhythm of dusk and dawn that now filled Phantaia. He had returned to the shore beside the seas again, telling them that the sleeping child must be given up to him. For this child now bore a great gift more precious than any other, the Sacred Waters of the world, which was promised to that realm long ago. Through it alone might Phantaia be reborn and thus the world live again.

He then whispered to his daughter, “Give me the child, An. For my father who hath made the world hath destined it be so.”

For love of her father she thus obeyed. And so she gave up, like a rare pearl, her precious daughter to the waves, releasing Ana’s tiny body to the ocean’s gentle current. Rising up through the waters of that silent sea, Ana was carried upon loving tides far and wide until her little form washed upon the barren shores of Phantaia.

But the monstrous storm of Yana, she who Agapor had cruelly summoned forth, had come to destroy Phantaia so that Agapor might find his missing father in the forest’s tangled depths. But Yana cared not for the living, so came to slay the frightened girl as she fled across the sands. But a spirit deep within Phantaia had heard Ana’s plaintive cries, and so came to her rescue beside that windy shore.

By his heroic act the tiny girl had escaped a terrible fate. For Ana was carried deep into the interior of Phantaia far from harm to the peaceful garden where silver pool and shining tree now dwelt. There in the heart of that pristine paradise Ana grew to love this child of the woods who had saved her, the forest-boy named Ama. They in turn filled their time in that idyllic place with an enduring friendship shared between them.

Ana soon grew to womanhood beside him until their love blossomed in a time of passion that seemed to them would never wane. But on a hot and humid night a dire thirst came to her, a desire for the waters of a mysterious pool which lay high upon a forbidden hill. This terrible thirst she could not foresake. For the unborn children she now carried cried out for their enchanted waters each night until Ana would at last awaken with an insatiable thirst she could not slake. She then drank from that forbidden spring until she had all but depleted it of its once resplendent waters.

To her horror Phantaia then turned from spring to autumn before her eyes. For the One Tree beside the pool had aged and withered by her accursed act, the one whose golden flame now faded like a dying ember. But that well was but the Secret Spring whose blood had birthed and blessed Phantaia and its many trees. It alone was the forest’s sacred source of life and that of the One Tree’s own sustenance. And so was its life now depleted. She then cried as the forest before her eyes grew gray and died.

But in the fading light there came to her the ghost of the Secret Spring, she whose blood was spilled so long ago. She then told Ana her time had come which she had known when a child would come to find her. For this child would replace the essence which she had shed for that loving land with a gift much greater than her own. That spirit then departed from this world leaving the empty well beside her.

The Shadow, a vile servant of darkness enslaved to tortured dreams, had also come to Phantaia to find Ana. For he knew of the gift she now carried and so had sought to slay her in Abrea. But he instead found her beloved Ama upon the hill now aged and weak, and so cruelly took the life of the golden boy. With the death of the one Tree and its guardian spirit the storms of Yana were now free to find Phanatia’s hidden gardens and obliterate them forever. For that savage beast now came with terrible rage to consume the last of Phantaia’s noble trees that yet remained.

But in the end Agapor had come seeking Ana, his only child, within the secret gardens of Abrea where she now hid. For he could not betray her nor see Phantaia perish by his hand. And so he fought that evil will so it might not take his precious child from him. In the midst of her father’s death and Phantaia’s demise, Ana then sacrificed herself upon the hill, her tiny body falling into the well of the world upon the hilltop to perish and thus become one with that magical garden in the end.

Through death had Ana embraced her fate with desperate hope that by her loving sacrifice something beautiful would yet remain. For she loved Phantaia truly, more than all her dreams and hopes that she and her children find a better life there. And so within her quiet grave Ana now slept undisturbed, bound to death’s eternal dream.

Since that time the lonesome spirit of the child had now dwelt in solitude, sorrowful in her past as she wept alone, far from her mother-ocean’s restless lap. Through dreams was Ana still fastbound to her mother’s loving spirit. For this daughter-of-dreams yet heard within the shadowed halls the distant sound of the ocean’s own heart strangely beating within her own. And so the calling of the Dreaming Seas had filled her sleeping mind with a relentless longing for the ocean’s long embrace.

But there had come into Ana’s mind many visions of a future yet to be so that she might know of some happier time unbeknownst to her and be not enslaved to the shades of her former sorrows. For Ana was still cursed by nightmares born of her troubled past, haunted by many questions left unanswered from that terrible and troubled time that had passed.

And so upon an evening when the mist was thickest her dreaming spirit rose from her tomb beneath the Hill of Abra and walked forth into the cool of the night. For her ghost was still troubled by many night terrors born of fear and longing, the unrelenting questions her haunted mind would not forshake. Running through the woods of Phantaia far and wide in her flowing gown Ana fled her grave at last, travelling on through the shadowlands of her tortured mind, seeking she knew not what.

She then heard the wailing of a distant cry, as of a child’s lonesome call upon the midnight air. Seeking its distant source she soon found herself walking alone far afield in a spirit-land of ghostly trails, lost in the forbidding frontiers of a timeless realm filled with many wandering specters born of her black and bleak imaginings. For the gloomy trails of the dead had crossed her spirit-path, trails that led to Avredd’s haunted shore.

Drifting far and away through the darker woods her ghost had come upon the gloomier glades of distant Phantaia. Roaming throught silent woods of ancient timber she came upon a monstrous landscape capped with rugged peaks of black rock and jagged ice. Passing through those towering lands she soon found herself wandering upon the edge of a meandering canyon filled with suffocating mists, poisonous and foul, rising from a pitiless chasm whose gruesome depths seethed with many untold horrors.

Down into the vile lands of Avaras she roamed, fleeing twisted and demonic trees as they crept about in beds of phosphorescent mushrooms. Climbing down through tangled and forbidding canyons filled with twisted trees and splintered trunks she ran on until her frightened spirit found itself at last before the drifting and shifting seas of a gray-grim shore. There before the pounding surf of the Dreaming Seas she smelled the sweet sea-air at last and remembered. For a gentler vision had come to her through her senses.

Beside the swelling waves the spirit of her mother An appeared before her. Veiled and tiara-crowned with trailing hair of black and grey, she wore a long silken sea-green gown of foam and spray flowing out across the surface of the seas. For it was filled with the countless stars made of pearly tears which she had borne of future tidings long foretold.

Her mother then came to Ana beside the rocks and waves, touching her child’s tearful face. Mother and child then embraced. For they were reunited once more, bound by a remorseful and regretful love they both had shared. Holding her hand An then walked beside Ana along that blissful shore, speaking to her of many things long past and forgotten, mysterious and forlorn, soothing the troubled child who as a babe she once held long before.

Ana then asked her mother why she had abandoned her so long ago upon that lonesome shore, giving her up to that savage realm of earth and trees. An with sad whispers then told her that the voice of the mists that dwelt within the hallowed woods had come to her upon an evening time when the tides were low, her father whispering upon the waters that a special child would soon be born to her.

This child would carry enchanted waters destined for a pool lost within the secret gardens of Phantaia, a secluded paradise which she alone would restore. Through the Sacred Waters of the World placed within her heart would Phantaia be reborn anew. And by her sacrifice would Phantaia be granted life again, a paradise forever born unto eternal youth never seen before, never ending in its breadth and beauty, a majestic wilderness bathed in the glow of twilight eternal once more.

Yet for another reason she told Ana were those waters made. But she knew not why. For she too like her had once held them within her broken heart and cried. Yet a mystery remained in them she could not discern upon the Wheels of Time. For none would ever know their tragic meaning save the shining sons and daughters of a world yet to come. Only they would seek its truth and so know in time its merciful blessings and true grandeur, and yet its unrelenting will they would long struggle against.

For the Sacred Waters had not come from her but from a darker place, poured forth from some bleak Womb of the World beyond the knowledge of those who once bore them upon great cosmic tides, passing those waters from world to world adrift upon waves of endless sorrow.

For a glorious purpose were the worlds made, conceived from the seed of the Almighty, the One Cosmic Spirit, during a time when his own kind had fallen, throwing their love against his own in defiance of his purposeful plans. Passing through many tragic worlds long ago destroyed and forgotten, the Sacred Waters would be forever carried by his noble servant, the Creator, so he might remake this world in his image, yet again.

It was these waters that glistened with such strange light and shadow that had first birthed the seas, created the world’s eternal dews and mists, carved the Arch of Heaven, and forged the world anew beside the fire of the hopeful spirit of the Creative Flame. But at the warring of the seas had the Sacred Waters been shed as precious blood, flowing away into the bowels of the earth, lost forever within the hateful pools and pits of the world that had consumed them. 

Within Ana now dwelt their last remaining drops. Yet from her grave might they flow again in endless streams should they be contained within a pool made of heavenly stone. For it was once fashioned from the heart of the Almighty himself to hold them. And so these waters and the bold heart to bear them was granted to An upon her birth, though she wept that she should bear alone painful burden. But Ana must now bear their curse and so return to Phantaia what was always theirs.

For by those spiritual waters might the evil shadows of the world be thrown back from her sacred wood. The forest would thus be but a blessed heaven as before in the spirit of a new light she alone would restore. The Forest of Twilight would thus live again, as in many world’s prior, its princely trees cast aglow in the divine hues of the maker’s great mind, the One Cosmic Spirit who hath made its endless working and wonders without end for all time, the twilight of his eternal ghost within whose lights lies all pasts, all presents, and future days most sublime he hath already made.

An told Ana, by her hand had the ancient trees grown forth again, and the lights of many noble spirits born to grace the land again beside the shining pool and tree. And through the providence of the Sacred Pool would the Children of Shining soon to come cleanse themselves of the stain of death and evil that color their hearts, dwelling as one blessed family in a land of eternal youth and peace beside them.

Yet must she forbear temptation to ever leave her grave. For bound to that unholy pool must those waters be not ever wholly freed, she told Ana. For wild were they once and would destroy the world if let loose again upon it. For it was these waters which once filled the seas that from unbridled rage and violence had forged the very sands and soil upon which the pillars of Phantaia’s earth now stands.

And so she said to her that within her grave beneath the well must she always rest so that its fountain flow forever after from her flesh and so be tamed. Those troubled waters from her heart must always flow, the source of life eternal henceforth. So must she go to her grave and dwell there alone and never leave that solemn place. She must resign herself to the infinite night, wrap her couch about her, and be as one with her dreams.

For should she falter would Phantaia perish and the world with it. Great evil that dwells in the Great Beyond had long ago desired it be so and that the last of those waters that now flow be parted and then depleted. Hiding from their sight would forever be her plight so that the pool and her waters be safely guarded from all harm. For the Evil Twins that dwell apart from this world would forever seek her.

Ana then understood her mother’s words and what she alone had seen, though she still knew not the meaning of that which she now carried. But as Ana turned to leave, her mother held her hand with may tears of joy and would not release her grasp. She then told Ana that she had withheld some secret from her. For she was but the master of the fates of many and their futures she was forbidden to ever share.

An then spoke again, telling Ana that children of her own to her would soon be granted born of her union with that forest-child named Ama whom she had loved so long ago. These blessed children she must love and care for, those that would someday walk in the forbidden forests of Phantaia. They would in time forge from that wilderness a paradise all their own. For they were destined to lead the true children of the Forest of Twilight to the Gardens of Abrea, that heavenly home she too once roamed.

But An cried, saying that the spirit of a new child not yet fully known would be seen upon the face of the waters when touched by her tears, a child-of-the-seas like her and savior of the world. But the powers of evil would soon seek this child in earnest. For she had foreseen that evil would drive its greatest servants to find her in Abrea until by its black claws it take the child from Phantaia at last.

And so this child upon her birth must be given unto her care and dwell beside her far from all harm in the impenetrable depths of the sea. An then wept beside her daughter trembling with great fear. Though forbidden to share this truth, for love of Ana and her child, An relinquished this forbidden knowledge for her to see, she whose destiny alone she must chart and so might change. To Ana was it then known whose distant cry she first heard upon the wailing winds.

With one last final embrace Ana with many tears departed from her mother’s care, never to return to her or her shores again. She then ran on through the shifting shadows as in a dream, far from that battered and rocky shore, on through groves of towering oaks that crowded upon Avaras’ cliffs, past the rolling hills and mist-filled valleys of Avra’s middle-realms, until her spirit found its way again to her grave beneath Abra.

By her mother’s words Ana vowed she would remain forever chained to endless dreams, never lamenting her sad state but everafter fully embracing her sad fate. For unlike her mother was this daughter of the well yet bound to the fate of Phantaia, a great burden she swore she alone would carry. 

To her lonely grave Ana’s spirit now returned, bound in both spirit and flesh, neither stirring nor departing that abode of death. Within her cavern were life’s youthful raiments stripped from her, the flesh of the Vatar that does not perish removed from her sleeping spirit. For henceforth would life’s treasures be denied her. Upon her bed of stone, embraced again by the arms of the loving earth, she lay down to pleasant dreams. 

Yet not for punishment but for a purpose most profound had she surrendered to her grave. For Ana had found at last her own heart’s fullest recompense within that morbid mound. By her own thirst had she sundered the spring from Phantaia, its generous source of life drained away. So was she doomed by her own temptations to return life back to Phantaia. Yet was great joy hers alone knowing she was destined to renew its former life.

Time unfathomed it seemed had passed around her deep respite. In that distant twilight time, trapped between time and timelessness, Ana slept in peace within the hollows of the earth. As the waters of her heart flowed out and about her tomb, her mind dreamt on in the sombre darkness. Within the lands above the tangled woods and gardens had overgrown her grave until its dark door completely hidden from all eyes and all that she once was had been wholly forgotten.

Never waking nor stirring, the tick of Time’s relentless march never waned nor wavered. Entombed in her timeless sepluchre no sound would now sunder the silent girl from her deep slumber, nor that tiny wonder by any seeker be ever plundered. Yet was her mind filled with any happy memories once known and strange visions of future faces most wonderous to behold. For like her mother she saw many things yet foretold in dreams that came so unwillingly to her.

But with the return of that ocean-child to peaceful dreams was the restoring of the well of the world now complete.

– the Author

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