The Butterfly Bee Lady

I’d like to think as stories go, that all have a start and an ending.

True in most cases, but some only really start at the very end.

The trees were still and colourless in the dark, their black silhouettes frozen against the dark sky above, and an eerie silence drifted through the forest, as though fear had taken a grip on all living things. A smell of decay and damp was all around, and the fingers of tree fungi halted along the moss-covered fallen branches, in a last attempt to reach out, but not daring to touch. The black oily pool of water lay still, as did the body lying next to it.

The silence was broken abruptly, by the sound of a twig snapping, and the sound of whispering voices, followed by the noise of wings buzzing and brushing against the low lying foliage, a dragging of something that was in pain. ‘Put ’im ’ere next to ’er’ came the rough croaky voice of a dragonflyer. There was a thud as the body hit the ground and a groan of pain, and the whistling of clinging breath came from the damaged body.

‘What shall we do with them?’ whispered one of the dragonflyers.

A dragonfly called Thornscratch pushed his way through the group of dragonflyers who were huddled around the two bodies. ‘Leave them,’ he grunted as he crouched over them. ‘All of you go to the Marsh Tarn in the wetlands and get help.’

Dawn was approaching and a slight breeze began to rattle some of the leaves, and Thornscratch shuffled around the black lifeless pond, where Sindeena’s body lay unmoving, he stared down at her, her face covered by her long black dishevelled hair. Only a closed eye could be seen through its tangle. Her arm outstretched and her hand still tightly holding her staff. Her other arm draped over the bank, partly submerged in the black murky water. ‘My queen,’ he whispered, as though he expected a reply, but nothing came back.

He looked again at the staff, the green stone appeared to have faint light emanating from its core, and the green veins running down the staff seemed to move, but he wasn’t sure, so he moved closer, his head flicking side to side with curiosity, he felt an urge, a pull, to pick it up. His arm reached out slowly, he was transfixed, and was near to its touch. When suddenly a shadow appeared to gradually grow in size on the ground where the staff lay, it sluggishly engulfed Thornscratch’s own shadow, Thornscratch froze. ‘Don’t touch that’ came a broken, angry voice from behind.

Thornscratch struggled to move, fear ran through his body like a lightning bolt burning him, he slowly managed to turn around, and there standing behind him, breathing heavily with his broken torn body, was Redwing, his large green eyes paralysed and fixed on Thornscratch.

‘Move away’ came his stanch unmoving voice.

‘My lord,’ Thornscratch winced, in a sudden gesture of obedience and shock, to see that Redwing had managed to even stand. Thornscratch moved quickly to one side, leaving Redwing standing over the fallen queen.

Redwing looked down at Sindeena, his scarred face emotionless, his thoughts took him back to how she had humiliated him in front of his soldiers. He thought, I’m not done yet, it’s my time, my time to be king. He knelt down slowly by her side and stared at her for a moment in silence. The wind began to blow stronger, the trees began to sway in the growing breeze, and dead leaves began to twirl in mini whirlwinds on the ground.

Redwing’s mouth smirked in a grimace of pleasure to see her lying there, he looked over at the staff, and he grabbed it, pulling hard to release it from her hand. But an intense pain shot through his arm, he screamed out, trying to release his hand. But the veins on the staff entwined his hand like snakes, they glowed green, turquoise and blue, he could not let go, he pulled harder, the pain became unbearable, he pulled with all his strength. Suddenly the staff tore from Sindeena’s hand, a green glow appeared from the stone at that moment, but still he could not let go of the staff, the pain grew more as the veins tightened, he screamed out again as he twisted around trying to free himself. Thornscratch backed away, fearing the unfolding prospect that he may get hurt.

Redwing fell to the ground on his knees, in one last ditch attempt to free himself from the staff. The stone glowed in Redwing’s face, his eyes wide and full of pain, he raised his arm and with his remaining strength smashed the stone against a rock on the ground. There was a loud crack, a shudder, and a green wave flew from the stone passing through all in its path as it broke in two.

And as if the pain could not get any worse, shards of glowing stone struck the side of Redwing’s face and burnt into him. The staff released from his hand and fell back to the ground, back to where Sindeena lay, its broken remaining fragment still glowing.

Redwing was still, he was on his knees, his hands clenching the soil beneath him, as though to make the pain go, he raised his head slowly, his face embedded with green glowing stones, he stared at Thornscratch who was cowering, near a tree stump, amongst the yellow mossy grass.

He cried out to Thornscratch in a stunned voice, ‘Get me away from here.’