Beneath the Unclouded and Azure Sky

Readers were briefly introduced to Solana in Among the Shadows. In Book 2, Awakening, we will be seeing much more of Solana, the tamer of the tempest. What follows is a Lost Tale that takes place between the prologue and Chapter one of the first book…Anger burned in Solana’s eyes, the green light wild with fury.

Solana lay on the sand as the waves licked at her feet. The unclouded, azure skies over the Gulf of Mexico brought with them a salty breeze. The Sun warmed her body, darkening her olive skin. She had come alone to the resort and spent most of her days as far away from the tourists as she could. She smiled, hearing her mother’s voice in her head chiding her on always traveling alone. After twenty-eight years, Solana had more than proved she could handle herself. Her mother knew this better than anyone. She had not told Solana about the family’s legacy rooted in Egypt’s misted past of pharaohs and pyramids. She had been there that day in the hospital when Solana’s power manifested fully, nearly uncontrollable and fatal. Still, she was always a mother first, no matter what, always worrying.

The wind touched Solana’s fingertips. The breeze swirled around her, seeking her out like a child to a mother. With barely a thought, she could turn those wisps of wind into a hurricane, a lethal weapon waiting to be unleashed. She had hunted evil, looking for it in the news, in the forgotten corners of the internet. Not the everyday criminals, but those who conspired with the Darkness. Her last little adventure had gone poorly. She crushed sand between her fingers. It still made her angry. What had made her think she could go to the worst corner of Africa by herself and take on those people?

It had been a trap set by those who sought to kill people gifted by the Light. She had underestimated — no, hadn’t fully understood — the depravity and devilry which worked quietly where no one suspected. The shadows also had those who were gifted, but with power forged by malice and hate. A man had saved Solana, but the Light had burned in her like it never had, and she attained a new level of control over her gift. Sometimes trial by fire was the spark needed to ignite the Light inside. And nothing happened by chance.

Solana had come to the beach to relax, and contemplate where her life was to go next, before heading back to her home in Sedona. Her shop would be fine without her awhile longer, but what had Ethan said? Continue to refine your power. Don’t rush out to save the world until you are ready. Find your place in the Story. They had talked about many things on the way home, before parting ways in Greece. He was like her, and had said there were others, but in spite of what they could do, he knew there was more to come. They hadn’t yet found their true path.

“I know there is more to come,  but what?” Solana sat up and looked around. Sounds rode the wind to her ears. People carrying on at the resort pool. Music from the bar. That hideous laugh from the guy who kept hitting on her. Lucky for her, he was at the other end of the resort trying to impress other women. There had been another sound; was she mistaken?

Then she heard it again. Distant and muffled, but clearly a scream. Solana stood and closed her eyes and called to the winds. It wasn’t words, really, but a connection through the veil. The energy in her soul pulsed and reached through time and space. She felt the wind wrap around her body, teasing the black hair that fell far below her shoulders. She opened her eyes. Green glittered against the brown.

Take me there. Show me.

The warm air led Solana down the beach, away from the resort. The further she walked, the more the sand shrunk as the jungle encroached upon the shore. The breeze took off into the trees, parting their leaves, revealing a path into the shadows and light that wrestled under the thick canopy.

A girl’s scream escaped and the birds silenced. The soft waves receded into the ocean. The presence of darkness weighed on Solana’s mind and sat on her chest. She but briefly thought heading into the jungle in a swim suit, and with no one knowing she had gone, wasn’t the best of ideas. Then her fingertips tingled, her eyes swirled with the Light, and she strode into the jungle.

The opening closed behind her as the sunlight struggled to penetrate the thick growth. Amatl — strangler figs — webbed around ancient Piich Guanacaste trees, their tangled vines obscuring the thick trunks. Roots snaked along the path, positioned to grab whatever came within their reach. No birds chattered from the trees. Nothing scurried along the ground. The longer Solana walked, little green life remained.

“Everything is dead,” she said to herself. Decay clung in the air. Rotted trees lay half-buried in the soggy soil. “But something is here. Like in Africa.” She stopped and slowly scanned the jungle. “I know you are here. I can feel your eyes on me. Your evil doesn’t scare me.” Solana readied herself, and not an instant later, a crashing came out of the darkness.

A hulking form stood on four legs in the path before her. Its back arched, and razor-edged, spiked plates protruded along its spine. Rising on its hind legs, the creature revealed its reptilian head. Inhuman, bloody-orange eyes slowly looked over Solana. Blackened, dried blood of its animal prey covered its clawed hands.  Choking up a guttural sound, it didn’t approach Solana, only continuing to appraise her with slow movements of its head.

“So this is the chupacabra.” Why is it just standing there? She pulled the wind to her and it swirled around her feet. “Where is the woman? I heard her screams. Do you understand me?” The demonspawn only cocked its head at her and didn’t make a sound. Then she caught its slight glance to the right.

She turned as another chupacabra scurried out of the canopy and leaped between two trees. It lunged through the air towards Solana.  Barely raising her hands in time, the vortex of air she threw slammed into its side, spinning the beast into a tree. Unfortunately, she had been caught off guard, and her footing weak. She flew backwards into a morass of mud and branches. Rolling to her hands and knees, she looked up.

Anger burned in Solana’s eyes, the green light wild with fury.

The chupacabra she had hit, cried in anguish at the base of the tree, its head mishaped by the impact. The other one hesitated to strike. Solana stood and the branches above experienced the violence of the tempest as the cyclone formed around her. Leaves tore away, branches snapped, and ageless trees groaned. The spawn of the Dark One tried to run, but Solana brought down on it a hailstorm of shrapnel, ripped from the jungle canopy.

As the wind subsided, and the leaves fluttered to the ground, Solana closed her eyes and allowed the energy inside her to settle and calm. She had never unleashed such power, but she had not lost control. There was a time when she was a danger to herself and all around her. Not any more. She opened her eyes.

Sunlight flooded the dark forest through the hole Solana had ripped open above. Crushed deep into the soil, the chupacabra lay buried under layers of debris. Soon the damp jungle would reclaim it, and its friend, whose death throes had been ended by a falling tree. The snapping of a branch Solana’s ear.

A young girl emerged from the jungle. Barely a teenager, her clothes torn and bloodied, she stared at Solana through a flood of tears, and slowly spoke.

“¿Eres un ángel?” Are you an angel?

“No, but my gift comes from their el creador, our Creator.” The girl smiled as Solana approached her. She seemed physically unharmed, but certainly not unscathed. The horrible sense came over Solana that those hideous terrors had intended to use her for the most depraved of needs. To use her to carry their young and grow their species.

“What is your name?” Solana knelt down and embraced her.

“Aurora.” She stared into Solana’s eyes, which still had a subdued green glow.

“Well, Aurora, the Light certainly has poured upon you on this day. Everything is going to be fine. What do you say we leave this place and find your family?”

Aurora nodded her head and took Solana’s hand. Solana took one last look at the carnage around them, then to the warming light from the chasm above, as it chased away the darkness.

Some say Darkness cannot exist without Light. No, it cannot exist when exposed to the burning brightness. Solana knew she would continue to turn evil to ash.

She knew this was only the beginning.

*******

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Categories: fantasy, Fiction, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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