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12+ Mature Content

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by Ashnirai


As was relayed to me, so I shall relay to you, and so I beseech you also relay unto another. My dearest reader, sit, and let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, in a land of wild magic and ancient gods, there lived a boy and his sister – a younger sibling dearly loved.

The boy and his sister were alone in the world, but they were happy. In spring, the goddess of flowers would invite them to dance upon a carpet of the lushest green grass, barefoot and laughing as they piled their arms high with alliums and hyacinths and daffodils. In summer, the golden sun god would smile down upon them as the many-antlered guardian of the woods took them hand in hand to where the sweetest berries and the clearest, coolest lakes lay hidden. In autumn, the lord of the harvest ripened wheat to gold as they ran through his fields chasing after voles fat with hibernation padding.

But then winter arrived, and with it came the ice queen. She was tall and beautiful and pale as snow, and her hair glittered with frost like the most delicate of lace. She came searching for a child to bring back to her lover, the lady of death.

The ice queen saw the boy’s sister and at once knew the little girl was what she sought. “Beautiful!” she murmured, delight glimmering on her brow like the diamonds in her crown. “Her hair is as dark as a raven’s wing and her eyes reflect the stars like a mirror. She looks just like my lady death. How perfect a find.”

And she swept the girl up in her embrace and whisked away on the fleet north wind, leaving behind a lone little boy standing there in the empty street, bereft of everything good and light.

The lady of death dwelt in the heart of the underworld where no sunbeam would ever shine, nor green grass ever grow, nor peaches ripen to a soft blush pink, nor bees sweeten their hives with honey. The boy could not leave his sister to such a fate. Love was a duty that he refused to shirk and he swore to rescue her no matter the cost.

But it would not be easy. The underworld was no place for the living and its gates were hidden from the mortal eye. Who then to seek out but the gaze of the divine?

The goddess of flowers lived in a temple surrounded by a maze of roses. As snow settled throughout the land and lulled the world to sleep, the boy walked the labyrinth searching for the entrance to her domain. The thorns from the roses scratched his hands raw but he persisted day after day, night after night, till at last the towering walls gave way to a beautiful temple in front of which the goddess stood.

“Please,” the boy begged, kneeling before the goddess. “My sister has been taken by the ice queen for her lover, the lady death. I seek to return her to the land of the living. Would you tell me where the gates to the underworld lies?”

“Oh, child,” murmured the goddess, weaving a wreath of carnations for his head. “Those taken to the realm below are lost to us who dwell above. Come, stay with me and rest among my flowers. Do not seek what should not be sought.”

But the boy could not rest. He was determined to find his sister and rescue her from her fate. “Thank you for your time,” he said, bowing low. “But I cannot stay. I will not give up.”

“You have heart, and you have soul,” said the goddess of flowers sadly. “The land of the dead would take both from you and leave you barren.” But she parted her maze of roses and let him go.

The golden sun god lived in a castle sat upon the tallest mountain towering into the sky. As spring spread daisies over hill and vale and coaxed the land to rouse from slumber, the boy set his feet upon unyielding rock and began to climb. The heat from the rays scorched his skin and the harshness of stone blistered his feet, but he persisted day after day, night after night, till at last he crested the summit where the gleaming castle stood.

“Please,” the boy begged, kneeling before the god seated upon his golden throne. “My sister has been taken by the ice queen for her lover, the lady death. I seek to return her to the land of the living. Would you tell me where the gates to the underworld lies?”

“Oh, child,” sighed the god, laying a burning hand upon his shoulder. “Those taken to the realm below are lost to us who dwell above. Come, stay with me and explore the world from my skies. Do not seek what should not be sought.”

But the boy could not accept. He was determined to find his sister and rescue her from her fate. “Thank you for your time,” he said, bowing low. “But I cannot stay. I will not give up.”

“Your spirit is as bright as the flame of your magic,” said the golden god regretfully. “The land of the dead would snuff out your fire and leave you frozen.” But he opened his castle gates and let the boy go.

The lord of the harvest lived in a sanctum hidden in the shimmer of heat-haze over endless fields. As birds and rabbits and all manner of critters gouged in the abundance of summer, the boy turned away from that which is physical to chase the warping between worlds. The jumble of illusion and reality threatened to drive him mad, but he persisted day after day, night after night, till at last he slipped through a mirage of air to where the sanctum stood.

“Please,” the boy begged, kneeling before the harvest lord who was preparing for a great feast. “My sister has been taken by the ice queen for her lover, the lady death. I seek to return her to the land of the living. Would you tell me where the gates to the underworld lies?”

“Oh, child,” frowned the lord, pressing a silver fork and carving knife into his hand. “Those taken to the realm below are lost to us who dwell above. Come, stay with me and satiate yourself at my table. Do not seek what should not be sought.”

But the boy could not eat. He was determined to find his sister and rescue her from her fate. “Thank you for your time,” he said, bowing low. “But I cannot stay. I will not give up.”

“You are a being of flesh and blood and bone,” said the lord of harvest, sorrowful. “The land of the dead would bar your entrance till you decayed to dust.” But he lifted the curtain of heat-haze and let the boy go.

As autumn set the trees alight in a blaze of fiery oranges like candles in the final celebration before snowfall, the boy continued to wander the woods searching for the gates to the world beneath. Even if the gods would not help him, he refused to despair.

The boy’s tenacity was not left unnoticed. “Child,” said the many-antlered guardian of the woods, stepping out from beneath the bowers with their cloven hooves ringing out like silver bells. “I have watched you mourn for a cycle of seasons. I have witnessed your journey, your commitment, your determination. Tell me, what would you give up for the sake of love?”

“Anything,” said the boy immediately. “Everything. I have devoted my life to my cause.”

The divine guardian was both pleased and sorrowful to hear this. “You will have to sacrifice much to reach the realm of the dead,” they said, “For there is no greater magic than that of life and death. You must undergo a trial of endurance, and a trial of strength, and a trial of devotion.”

“You will suffer much,” said the guardian, solemn, “And you must not lose faith throughout. To falter is to lose yourself and your chance at resurrecting your sister both.”

“You will not return the same. You may not return at all,” said the guardian, mournful. “You seek what should not be sought. I do not wish to see you pass before your time. There are none who would fault you for turning away now.”

But the boy was not deterred. “Thank you for your care,” he said, bowing low. “But I will not give up. I must go forth.”

The many-antlered guardian dipped their head. “So it be, then. I will give you the knowledge you seek: go to where the elm trees grow tangled branch in branch in an archway of wood. Therein you must make your first sacrifice: blood enough to soak the soil red, and a ring of flowers to mark your grave.”

“This will not be your only sacrifice,” they said. “But I cannot tell you anything more.” And they struck their silvered hoof against the ground and vanished.

The boy found the grove of elm trees with the branches twisted together in an arch against the sky. It was small and secluded and silent in the evening hush. There was a circular patch of grass nestled in the roots beneath the very crown of boughs and he laid down his wreath of carnations atop it, that which would be his tomb. As silvery twilight faded into deepening night, the boy knelt down and took knife to skin.

“Oh guardian of the underworld, hear my plea. My sister has been taken by the ice queen for her lover, the lady death. I seek to return her to the land of the living. Would you accept this offering of blood and allow me into the land beneath?”

Richer and richer did his blood dye the pale carnation petals till they became as crimson as the glistening gems hidden in a pomegranate’s heart. Faster and faster did his blood flow till it had run rivers into a lake as red as a banner of war. Deeper and deeper did his blood soak the soil until it was as wet and fertile as a farmer’s fields, and then deeper still, where it finally reached the roots of the great elm trees.

The roots drank greedily. The ancient trunks roused from their slumber. The twisted branches untwisted themselves. The elm trees shuddered. They reached out. Saturated with the blood and devotion sacrificed to them, they spread their limbs wide and formed a gate.

The boy could barely stand. He was dizzy now, and his skin was as pale as sea-foam. But unwavering determination lent strength to his limbs and he stepped over the bloodied flowers into a shuddering of worlds.

The path set before his feet was as substantial as starlight and as clear as glass. It was suspended in a soundless ocean of water as dark as the midnight sky. Above him, the yawning void whispered for him to fall into the cradle of its vast emptiness. Around him raged a silent storm with winds as cold as the ice queen’s kiss, swirling violent eddies in the mist. Behind him, the path stretched on as endlessly as it did ahead.

The boy began to walk.

Each step rang out like an emptiness in the air. It was an emptiness that swallowed even the nascent beginnings of sound. It was a soundlessness that was deafening to the ear. The type of absence like a gaping wound. The dearth that denies an existence.

And through this silence, there was a song.

stop for a moment, the abyss called to him, stop for just one moment to rest your weary limbs.

Bodies began to form within the formless fog, trapped beneath the lightless sea. Frozen figures with features blurred into an absence of identity the way time erodes definition from stone. Young, old; man, woman; dark-haired, blond; broad-shouldered, thin – nothing. They had nothing. They were nothing. They were once people. Now they were merely what was left.

lay down for a moment, the abyss coaxed him, lay down for just one moment to recover your strength.

Here, the curve of a spine tucked around a bundle of limbs. Here, the indent of eyes that were. Here, the smudge of a shape that suggested at a head pillowed on a pair of arms.

sleep for a moment, the abyss crooned, sleep for just one moment. you deserve respite.

And the boy was tired. He wished nothing more than to close his eyes and drift into a dreamless sleep. But he would not. He could not. Those nebulous shapes like soft clay moulded by a novice, clumsy hand – those were the travellers that had succumbed to the void’s call and strayed their feet from the path.

The starlight path stretched on endlessly before him. The boy continued to walk.

The storm that had raged so silently around him began to swell. First it pushed and pulled at him, attempting to drag him back. It raised its voice. It grabbed the path beneath his feet and shook it savagely. The boy braced his shoulders and soldiered on.

Furious at his intrusion and furious at his persistence, the storm grew wilder. Each stride spurred the bitter winds to tear at him with icy claws. Each step was accompanied by howling that deafened the ear. Each metre advanced sent the temperature plummeting lower and lower till even time itself seemed too frozen to move.

go back! the wind screamed. go back, go away, get out! intruder! you do not belong here! leave! leave! leave!

It was violent and cruel and it gouged at his flesh. It was so blisteringly cold that it cracked his bones. It buffeted him in every direction trying to tear him from the path. It dashed hail and snow like daggers in his eyes so that he could not see.

The golden sun god had once laid a burning hand upon the boy’s shoulder. Even a single touch from the divine held power – he grasped that memory of fire and wrapped himself in it, feeding the flame of his determination.

The starlight path stretched on endlessly before him. The boy continued to walk.

The boundless storm gave way to a calamity that cannot be seen. It was a thing of fractured air and oozing tar and shattered truth and twisted unreality. It was a cataclysm in progress. It was a scene of destruction too terrible to fathom such that the mind sought to protect itself by refusing comprehension altogether. Ice turned to ash, mist into miasma, cold into blazing heat. Darkness collapsed into sears of horrifying colours like a calamity upon the eyes.

Then the screaming began. If one could call it screaming – it was sound unconstrained by the physical limitations of a throat. Wailing, like an apocalyptic grief. Like a heart being torn out. Like a foundational dream being crushed. Like the madness of defeat.

From the miasma emerged misshapen figures, more waxen un-people with features stripped of all identity. But these bodies were not frozen. These bodies were not still. These bodies tore at themselves with rotted fingers and undulated in grotesquely impossible angles and contorted with the force of their screams. These bodies writhed with a madness born from too much horror. These bodies were a calamity, a cataclysm, a destruction.

They rushed at him, these bearers of calamity. They rushed at him with teeth dripping in lunacy. They surged at him, clung to him, piled atop him. They clawed at him, they gouged at him, they ate at him. They swarmed him. They wanted him.

He fought back. He ripped them off him, these parasites, these piranhas, these faceless un-people. He shoved them back. He kicked them away. They crumbled beneath his grasp wet sand, like waterlogged clay; and still, they clung to him with colourless, shapeless flesh the same way spiderwebs do. Sticky. Binding. Bloodless – it was all bloodless. He had no blood to lose and neither did they.

The bodies kept coming. They were as endless as the starlight path. They buried him deep enough that he could not even see the terrible destruction, the eternal cataclysm. They swarmed him tightly enough that he could no longer move.

The weight of these bodies – it was too much. He stumbled. The boy stumbled upon the starlight path.

The path beneath his feet was as substantial as starlight and as clear as glass. It was suspended in a soundless ocean of water as dark as the midnight sky. Above him, the yawning void whispered for him to fall into the cradle of its vast emptiness. Around him raged a silent storm with winds as cold as the ice queen’s kiss, swirling violent eddies in the mist. Behind him, the path stretched on as endlessly as it did ahead.

There were no more bodies. No more calamity that cannot be seen, no more ceaseless horror, no more unending screams.

No more progress.

He was back at the beginning. An eternity of suffering, of determination, of faith – and he would need to begin anew.

The starlight path stretched on endlessly before him. The boy began to walk.

First came the deafening silence. The chasmic sky that was bottomless enough to fall forever into. The formless fog with the featureless statues of once-people slumbering eternally beneath the lightless sea. The soft siren song of the abyss beckoning him to a gentle sleep.

The boy continued to walk.

Next came the storm-winds and the primordial cold. The gales were even more vicious this time. Savagely angry. They howled into his ears and tore hair in fistfuls out from his scalp. They carved lines of ice into the tatters of his body and stripped flesh from bone. They sunk a chill so deep into him that not even the sun god’s handprint could spark the memory of heat.

The boy continued to walk.

Then came the unknowable calamity, the ruin of a reality. The decay of an existence stuck in the state of eternal collapse. The overwhelming and incomprehensible horror. And the screaming. The endless screaming. The endless screaming from the bodies reduced down to a singularity of grief and madness.

They came at him again, starving for the purpose he still possessed. For the faith. The love. The determination. They climbed over each other to reach him. They pressed in like a wave deep enough to drown in. They clawed greedily for his beating heart. They gnawed on his exposed bone. They ignored his struggles, his strikes, his monumental effort straining for just another step.

The weight of the bodies was again too much. Again, he stumbled. Again, the boy found himself back at the beginning with the soundless black ocean and the yawning void. Again, he would need to begin his march anew.

He was more bone than body by now, barely any bloodless flesh clinging to the skeleton caging his heart. He was bone bound together by the flame of his magic and the determination of his soul.

Even as he watched, a flake of soft tissue peeled away like a tatter of wet paper. He reached out and caught it in his palm and remembered—

— a brilliant laugh. Whose?

— before it melted into pulp that slipped through his fingers like fine-grained sand despite his desperate attempt to retain it.

The starlight path stretched on endlessly before him. The boy began to walk.

Another stumble. The boy continued to walk.

Another stumble. The boy continued to walk.

Another stumble. The boy continued to walk.

Past the sweetly welcoming abyss. Past the raging storm. Past the end of the world. It was all familiar now. Routine. It was a cycle that knew itself. Even a mortal mind could become inured to existential horror, it seemed. And once more he was stalled by the mass of formless bodies ravenous for what he had. For what he was.

Another stumble.

Again.

In a samsara, time loses all meaning. A day was the same as a year was the same as a millennium was the same as a second. It was the type of grindstone that erodes even bone to dust. Eternity was measured not by time but by what can be endured.

Another stumble. Another cycle.

Onwards.

The starlight path stretched on endlessly before him. The boy continued to walk.

Eventually, he came to realise he had no more blood nor flesh nor bone left to be stripped away. He had no more nerves left to feel pain. He had no body left to be hindered. He was a flame and a magic and a heart and a soul; and an endless march, and singular and driving focus. Those grasping hands, those starving teeth, those desperate and devastated remnants of the once-people — they could not touch him anymore.

The boy slipped through their grasp as softly as silk falls. The cataclysm around him faded into a soundless dark ocean, an unfathomable abyss, a boundless mist. The starlight path sang as sweetly as silver and was as clear as glass. It was as endless forwards as it was behind.

Until it was not.

The starlight path stopped at the end of eternity. It stopped at the bottom of the universe. It stopped at an immutable nowhere. It ended its endlessness, and ceased to exist. The boy had been walking for a forever and now there was nothing to walk.

So, what then?

Well if this was the end of eternity, then make a new beginning. If this was the bottom of the universe, then tip it over upside down. If this was an immutable nowhere, then create a somewhere to be. If this reality did not hold that which was sought, then burn it to ash and rewrite the stars.

The boy wanted, with everything he had, with the totality of what he was, to enter the underworld. And magic, at its most fundamental level, was about reshaping reality in accordance to want.

Magic was one part conviction, one part desire, one part power, and one part faith. And the boy was magic. He was that conviction. He was that desire. He was that faith, that flame. That was all he was, stripped of bone and blood and flesh down to his most fundamental devotion.

It was said that a heart in love burns brighter than the sun. The boy gathered space around himself and set his heart ablaze.

Want. Belief. Unwavering determination. Unbroken faith. The golden divinity of a sun god’s touch. He fed it all to the furnace of himself. He was the fire and he fed to it magic. He was the magic and he fed to it fire. He looped it into itself, that cycle of conviction and desire and tenacity that fanned itself into higher and brighter heights till it birthed power enough to blaze through reality.

The boy tumbled into a fathomless sky. He was the twinkle of a single soul in a galaxy of stars. Below him was a lightless sea, a boundless mist, a raging storm, an eternal destruction. Through it all ran a starlight path like a thread of fine silver, weaving it all together in a lace hemmed onto the edge of a soft dark veil.

The boy turned around. The lady of death was shrouded in that veil from head to toe, and in her lap lay curled a little girl, fast asleep. The girl was quiet and pale with hair as dark as a raven’s wing and cheeks devoid of colour. He did not know her, but it felt strange seeing stillness where he thought laughter and a smile would suit her face more.

But the girl was not important. “You have passed the trial of endurance and the trial of power to get here,” said the lady death, and her voice was like the whisper of the abyss, quiet and dreamy. “Your sacrifice was witnessed. Your suffering was seen. Tell me, child, what is it that you seek?”

The boy knelt down. He had no body to kneel with but his soul remembered the motion. “My sister was taken by the ice queen as a gift to you. But she does not belong here. Please, would you return her to the land of the living?”

“Oh, child,” sighed the lady, and her sorrow was as gentle as the first snowfall of winter. “Those taken to the realm below no longer belong to the dwellings above. She is my child now. You seek what should not be sought.”

But the boy could not accept this as defeat. “Please,” he begged. “Is there no offering, no exchange, no sacrifice you would accept?”

The lady of death paused. She lifted her veil, and her hair was as dark as the lightless ocean, and her eyes were alight with countless brilliant lives. “My dearest child,” she said, softly, achingly kind. “Why do you care?”

He looked upon the little girl in her lap and suddenly knew her to be his sister as though a veil had lifted from his own eyes too. But he did not know anything about her. He felt nothing at seeing her. “I do not know,” the boy admitted. “I do not remember.”

“When the cycle had worn away your body, so to did it wear away your memories. When you burned through your heart to get here, so too did you burn through your love.” The lady of death reached out into the fathomless sky and plucked out a star, cradled in her palms like a gem more precious than diamond. “Divine magic is ultimately fair. If you were to offer your soul in exchange for hers, I would accept. I would let her go.”

“Child of heart,” she said, and held out her hand. “Will your devotion persist even without love?”

The boy took out a silver carving knife. He did not remember where he had received it, nor how it had survived his journey. But it was sharp enough to cut through his heart and hew out his soul.

It shone with a brilliant light as he placed it into the lady’s outstretched palm. There came at once a sudden lightness within him, as if he had suddenly shed a great weight leaving behind a profound emptiness that could never be filled. He felt unanchored. He felt distant enough to float away.

“Love is a duty,” he said. “Love is my duty.” And he watched as the lady poured that diamond star-soul into the sleeping girl, shifting her into a dove that immediately took wing into the fathomless sky.

The lady of death turned to him and her face was filled with an emotion he did not understand. “Was it worth it?” she asked, and he thought she sounded sad.Was what worth it? The boy-that-was could not remember neither question nor context. “It must have been.”


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Sun Mar 26, 2023 12:31 am
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RandomTalks wrote a review...



Hello!

RandomTalks here with a short review!

This was such a delightful read! And I say delightful (despite the tragic ending) because the story genuinely took me by surprise, as I can never relate much to fantasy pieces and therefore avoid reading them. However this was so much more than that - you have blended fantasy with fairytale and woven such an intricate tale that it was impossible not to get sucked into the story. The omniscient narration, the cycles of repetition, the symbolisms and metaphors, the fantastical descriptions and the strong, raw emotions that form the core of the story - all of it has created an effect that is no less than magic in itself.

Narration:

I really liked the way you have narrated the story. The third-person omniscient voice that is usually used to narrate stories like these feel a little generic and repetitive after a while, mostly because its more of the same thing being voiced in the same voice. As a result, the narration can fall a little stagnant after a while and the readers may lose interest. I felt a similar alienation with the story during short moments in the middle section when the boy was trying and failing to cross the starlight path again and again. However, here I really appreciated your efforts to diffuse the repetition and monotony through an even more use of repetition and patterns in narration. For example, here:

Another stumble. The boy continued to walk.

Past the sweetly welcoming abyss. Past the raging storm. Past the end of the world. It was all familiar now. Routine. It was a cycle that knew itself. Even a mortal mind could become inured to existential horror, it seemed. And once more he was stalled by the mass of formless bodies ravenous for what he had. For what he was.

Another stumble.

Again.

I really liked the repetition of "Another stumble" and "the boy continued to walk" in this entire section. Not only does it effectively convey the passage of time in a less-obvious way but it also manages to capture the boy's tireless tenacity and it eventual fruitlessness.

Another thing I really enjoyed was the way you contrasted your long sentences by simultaneously succeeding them with shorter ones. For example:
They rushed at him with teeth dripping in lunacy. They surged at him, clung to him, piled atop him. They clawed at him, they gouged at him, they ate at him. They swarmed him. They wanted him.

The way you have written this part, it creates a rhythm that almost reads like poetry. It creates a lingering effect in the reader's mind, so much so that the action of the scene cease to matter and in stead there is more focus on the emotions it conveys - the utter hopelessness and futility of the boy's efforts.

Dialogue:

There is almost next to none dialogue in the piece except near the beginning when the boy is going around asking for help in bringing back his sister and near the ending when he finally completes his objective and finds his sister with the Lady of Death. The limited interactions in the story make the few that took place seem more significant.

I liked the way you used repetition to convey the futility of the boy's good intentions when he went around asking the various gods for their help. The almost exact repetition of his words and their answer show how he was trapped in a cycle of helplessness and desperation but still refused to back down every time. It also emphasized the pity that everyone felt for him, even though the wordings were changed to fit the purpose of each of the characters in the story.

“Child of heart,” she said, and held out her hand. “Will your devotion persist even without love?”

What I absolutely loved about this interaction is how it portrayed these two essentially soulless creatures who still have the capacity to care and be affected. The Lady of Death, whom we had perceived to be the antagonist of the story this entire time does not appear as a 'villain' at all, at least not in the conventional sense. Yet, we find that she is capable of showing kindness, gentleness and understanding. She appears to be moved by the boy's sacrifice and it leaves us confused because we don't know who to be mad at for that tragic ending.

I also liked how the boy's dialogues seemed almost mechanical and unconscious, as though he was unaware of the reason behind his words but he knew that they were right and that he was supposed to say them. You did a great job in portraying that change in the boy. For someone who was guided entirely by passion, purpose and love - bereft of all that, he was a ghost, a shadow of his former self and I loved how presented that contrast.

One thing though - I wish there were more/any interactions between the siblings. Since the story is based entirely around their relationship and the deep love the boy has for his sister, some actual interactions between them, no matter how short, would have helped the readers empathize more with his character. For example, we know that he loves his sister and would sacrifice anything for her, but we didn't really get to see, you know?

Plot and Progression:

At its very core, the plot of the story is simple - a brother going to the ends of the world, or in this case, the universe, to save his sister. However, its the way that you have explored the various emotions underlying the boy's love that really stood out for me. For example, I was very interested in the 'love is a duty' aspect that you raised in the story. It made me wonder if the boy went to such lengths out of love or a traditional sense of responsibility to his sister. It was definitely one interesting way to make the readers leave the story wondering.

As for the plot progression, I mentioned earlier about the middle section (the boy's failed attempts to cross the starlight path) being a little repetitive. The repetition was probably a necessary aspect of the story, but there was just this huge chunk of text that was repeated in a cycle and because of the omniscient narration, it felt as though we were stuck at a point and not moving at all. I found it a little difficult to power through that part, and since it constitutes a significant part of the story, maybe you could cut it a little short so that the readers don't lose interest?

“Was it worth it?” she asked, and he thought she sounded sad.Was what worth it? The boy-that-was could not remember neither question nor context. “It must have been.”

Now, coming to that ending, I don't think there was any better way to rip out your readers' hearts than with those four words at the end. That single question and its answer had so much significance and conveyed such meaning and heartbreak and tragedy - it was the most powerful and impactful ending to the story. It left the readers with a punch in the gut and demanded that they deal with it themselves. There was nothing 'sweet' about this bittersweet ending, it was just a plain tragedy.

That's all!

Thank you for sharing the story with us! It was a great pleasure to read and review it!

Have a great day/night!

~ RandomTalks




Ashnirai says...


Thank you so much for this review! I really appreciate the detail you went into. I'm glad you enjoyed it (despite the ending).

You definitely have a point with the repetition in the part about the starlight path! I was trying to show the passage of time where time does not pass, and the cyclical and repeating samsara, and a sense of hopeless futility that constitutes the trial of endurance - but I definitely could cut back on some of it.

Yes! Cadence and flow are some of my favourite things to play with. I try to juxtapose long lyrical sentences with short, staccato ones (sometimes even just fragments of phrases) to try and add interest or suit the atmosphere of what I'm trying to convey. I'm so glad that came across and that you picked up on it.

You mention wanting to see more of the boy's interaction with his sister and I can see why! I suppose because this is less of an actual short story and more of a fairytale, and thus more about the journey and the struggles rather than the plot, I didn't really think to include it. In a sense, duty was the driver, rather than love. Or rather, duty and love were a continuum and one and the same.

Again, thank you so much for your review!



RandomTalks says...


You're welcome! <33



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Tue Mar 21, 2023 6:41 pm
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vampricone6783 wrote a review...



I enjoyed this story. It was tragic, but I liked reading it. I think that this is talking about wanting something despite the circumstance. In the beginning, the boy wanted his sister back because he loved her. No one would help him. He went into The Underworld himself and when he finally got to her, he was a the same as those bodies before, yet his soul must have remembered her, because he still saved her.

I wish you a lovely day/night.




Ashnirai says...


Thank you for the review! I'm glad you enjoyed the story despite the bittersweet ending. I kept things a little vague because I thought it suited the vibe of a fairytale more like that, but it the overarching theme could certainly be interpreted as the struggles faced for a desire :) And yes! By the end he couldn't remember her nor what it felt like to love her at all, but he chose to sacrifice himself for her regardless and thus passed the final trial of devotion to set her free.




Wicked people never have time for reading. It's one of the reasons for their wickedness.
— Lemony Snicket