This is a little something I wrote yesterday (while the internet was down ;^; ) because inspiration struck at the oddest time. I think I may expand upon this world at a later date, but I had to get this out there. Let me know what you think, ok?
Oh, and bonus points if you can guess what inspired most of this.
Summers rained for years in that place. Sundrops fell from the sky as endless tears of joy, covering the land with a sweet ray of hope. Autumn came but once a decade, heralding the coming storm of Winter. Ashen snow fell and the people were filled with despair, fearing their beloved Fathers and Mothers in the sky descended with the frosty flakes.
Riese spent endless hours staring at the icy burnt remains slowly drifting from the heavens, choking back tears at the thought that her Mother was among those destroyed by the despicable Winter. The pity of her village, Maelstrom, was her constant companion and everlasting shadow. Riese could only content herself with the knowledge that, by next Winter, she would join her Mother in the Upper World, where her tears would be ones of smoldering bliss instead of her frozen anguish here in the World Below.
One day, she thought, I will live in a world above pity.
With that as her beacon, Riese spent her days gazing at the sky, dreaming of her Mother, the woman whose face she barely recalled and voice was a distant lullaby in a foreign language. When she was a child, Riese heard the villagers say that her Mother would never rise to the Upper World because of her alien heritage and that Riese would be most fortunate to overcome such a genetic setback. In their own way, they wished Riese the greatest blessing they could devise.
Yet it was never enough to draw Riese from her thoughts, her self-inflicted isolation. Her heart warmed only with the coming summers in which her Mother’s love fell from the sky. She was sure her Mother was there, monitoring her daughter, waiting for the day when she could bring Riese back into her safe and loving arms.
As Winter dredged on, Riese fell into despair. The ashes slowly ceased to come and with their cessation, Riese lost faith in her Mother in the Upper World. Too many nights had her tears frozen to her cheeks and sobs replaced the gentle lullaby of her Mother’s songs.
Winter passed, bringing Riese into adulthood and further from dreams of the Upper World and her Mother. She was a practical woman now, and she shed her lonerisms for a husband and children, whom she cherished greatly. In the eyes of Maelstrom, she had overcome her disadvantage. The child wandering in the ashen snow had come home.
In the years of Summer rain, Riese became a prominent member of the community. Her research into the scientific causes of the seasons created much heated debate and great admiration from the multitudes. Neighboring chiefs would visit to hear her theories and spread the word to their people. It soon became common knowledge that the sundrops that fell every summer were what caused the trees to bear such delicious fruit and the hogs to grow fat so quickly. Their prosperity was not the whim of Mothers and Fathers who died every fifteen years. It was science.
In time, Riese exposed many of the secrets of their world and was renowned as a great Thinker. Her Daughter, who admired her from the moment Riese called her name at birth, branched off from Riese’s research, choosing to investigate the causes of humanity’s spread throughout the world. Riese’s son, however, continued to pray to the Mothers and Fathers in the sky, believing that his mother was not necessarily wrong in her research, but that the Mothers and Fathers were the driving force behind his Mother’s science.
The children grew up and Riese grew old. Her hair turned gray and her once bright and lively eyes grew tired and wrinkled. It was Winter again. As she had done in her childhood, Riese wandered the ashen plains, admiring the technological advances of Maelstrom. Her heart swelled with pride to see families warmed by harnessing the power of stored sundrops and eating meals preserved with the extract of evergreen trees. She was pleased with her work.
“Maelstra Riese!” called a familiar sweet voice in the distance.
Riese turned to face the sound, but there was no one there. Puzzled and, Riese admitted, a bit curious, she followed the source of the sound. It called her through the woods and halfway to Stracatto, the neighboring village, before Riese discovered the speaker.
“Maelstra Riese, I’ve been calling you all these years and you never heard me. Why did you stop waiting for me to call you home?”
The speaker was a young woman dressed in an ashen white gown that seemed to be made of the very ash they stood on. Her eyes were the soft amber of Autumn and her hair the brilliant gold of sundrops.
“You must forgive me, Miss, I was unaware that I was awaiting word from you,” Riese replied, a tad too sarcastically for the speaker’s liking.
“You begged me to bring you home when you were a child. Your tears would cling to your face, icy and cold, yet you did not waver. I saw your sorrow and took pity on you. I was going to free you of the World Below as soon as you came of age,” the woman explained. “Yet, when the day came, you had rebuked the Upper World for your science. What has that science done to dry your tears, Maestra Riese?”
Riese was speechless. Not once in her adult life did she dare to dream that the Upper World was real, that such a thing could exist. Her heart clenched tight and her eyes stung with the heat of her tears. For the first time since the Winter of her youth, Riese’s tears froze to her cheeks and she dropped to her knees in the ashes.
“Maestra Riese, my child, do not cry,” whispered the woman. “Please, my Daughter, do not cry any more. My heart cannot bear it.”
Riese lifted her head in disbelief. It was impossible that this young woman was her Mother, the woman who had left her for the Upper World so many years ago. It simply could not be.
“I must be losing my hearing, Miss,” Riese said carefully. “You see, I thought you had called me your Daughter and, well,” Riese looked herself over, “as you can see, I am likely old enough to be your Mother instead.”
The woman merely smiled and began to sing an old tune. Riese knew it well, for her mother had sung it to her to get her to sleep when she was very small and afraid of Winter. The melody recalled memories of summers, swimming in the lake and falling in love with the young carpenter of Maelstrom. Most of all, though, it reminded Riese of the hope she once had, the faith that someone from the Upper World would scoop her up and away from the pity of the villagers.
“My Daughter, please accept my kindness now,” the woman pleaded and Riese saw the desperation in her eyes. It was the same desperation she felt when her own Daughter had decided to leave Maelstrom in search of her own answers. Riese had begged her Daughter to remain in Maelstrom until her Mother passed away of old age. She would be free to roam the world afterward, but Riese could not imagine losing her beloved Daughter. In that moment, Riese realized the truth of the woman’s words.
“Mother, I’m so sorry. I’ve abandoned you like I feared my Daughter would abandon me,” Riese wept. “Yet, what would you have me do now? Leave my love, my work, my children for the dreams of a child who missed her Mother? I cannot. I will not leave their side, not now. They need me, Mother.”
Riese’s Mother smiled. Though her heart was broken at her Daughter’s choice, she was proud of the woman Riese had become. She had found her light, her purpose, and accepted it gracefully. And, despite what she had said, she would accept her Mother’s last gift with as much grace and dignity.
The sky above opened up and sunlight that rivaled that of Summer shone down on Riese and her Mother. Its warmth engulfed Riese and her frozen tears melted away. She closed her eyes and let the light swallow her whole. It embraced her fully and, for the first time in her life, Riese felt free.
She was living in a world above pity.