The Greying by Dallas Sutherland
Posted by brriske
Title: The Greying (Book One in the Landland Chronicles)
Author: Dallas Sutherland
Genre: Fantasy Novella
LANDLAND CRIES OUT FOR A SAVIOUR… Upon the death of her mother, Meah is pulled across the boundary that separates this world and another time and place where the dog-like Firbog have brought the mists of the greying. Under the evil Queen Berilbog they threaten to claim all the lands. With her Mother dead and her Father missing – she is on her own! Can Meah learn how to use the power of the thinking? Will there be enough time to save both Landland and herself? Will Meah ever find her way home again? She must triumph over grief and sadness on her journey into a world made cold, grey, and colourless by the ravages of the greying. Meah travels into the depths of Bigriverland to find the mysterious sage, The Biggo. In the heart of Dead Wood, Meah meets Josh O’Tosh, the last of the warrior Pictish Priests. Battling lurking homunculi and the horrors of the many-headed-winged-thing, they set out to recover the only thing that will save Landland …her mother’s Book-of-Colours.
Over the last twenty-five years, the Author has exhibited a creative bent across a range of industries including graphic design, fine arts, and trompe l’oeil murals. He has lectured in fine arts and studied Art History, Literature, Adult Education, and Creative Writing. Works include play scripts and short stories. The Greying is his first published novella, with further books planned as part of the fantasy series. He draws inspiration from myth, legend, and fairy tales.
He lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia with his partner Kerri, and daughter Ruby.
https://www.createspace.com/4619258 (30% off code AV64GVYE)
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424260 ($1.99 code NP84W)
There’s a tour-wide giveaway for a poster of Deadwood.
You can participate by subscribing to the author’s newsletter on his website: www.dallassutherlandauthor.com
There are also other giveaways during the tour, for book cover posters, and print copies of the book.
Here is a picture of the book cover posters:
It was then that she saw them!
Meah stood as the boat turned. She reached out to touch them. Clasping the portfolio tight to her chest with one arm, she stretched as far as she dared with her other, but in the turning of the boat and the buffeting of the waves, Meah lost her balance.
Her over-reaching hand grasped for the railing, but remained empty.
Meah fell, banging her head on the edge of the boat. She went straight down into the cool embrace of the sea, still clutching the portfolio tightly to her chest.
The bang on the head confused her senses. She could not swim and drifted just below the surface. The portfolio floated beside her.
Neither Auntie Beryl nor the boatman had seen her fall. By the time they realised she was missing, the boat was at least a hundred metres away.
Meah continued to float just beneath the surface. Her head swam with visions of sadness … was she dying?
Ooh! The dolphins were back again. If she could just touch one— that dark one there!
Meah fought hard to keep the dreaming alive, to touch the dolphins. The dreaming became fuzzy and grey, then black.
The sea surged. The black dolphin came closer. Gently, it nudged the girl and towards the surface they rose together.
The sky grew black, almost as black as the obsidian sheen of the dolphin. Bubbles glistened on the girl’s skin. Rain pelted at the sea.
On and upwards the dolphin pushed until finally it held the girl above the water.
They were close to the shore now. At last, the dolphin relinquished its grip on the girl and gave her up to the care of the waves.
A peak rose out of the water and lifting the girl up on its crest, it tumbled her over and down the face of the forming wave.
Like escorts, the pod of dolphins swam in and out of the lurching wave as the girl glided like a body-surfer towards the beach.
Rain continued to beat down on the water leaving tiny pockmarks in the sea foam. Seaweed entangled the girl’s limbs, bearing her up and easing her passage towards the shore.
Out at sea, the pod of dolphins watched and waited for the storm to abate. A rainbow mist hovered for a moment over the shoreline and then it was gone; swept away inland on a final gust of wind.
Suddenly, Teah’s head began to whirl. She sat back down. The firefly-lamp hummed and buzzed as she closed her eyes to concentrate, trying hard to still her thoughts.
And that’s when it began …In her mind she saw all of Landland stretching away before her. She felt the fear spreading across the land, all the way from Bigriver, up through the coastal villages and on to the tip of land that was Mount Beacon. Landland Village lay deserted beneath its towering headland. Confusion abounded in the Scented Forest …frightened animals and Scented People hid themselves away. High up in the Chain of Mountains, the forges of the Giants lay simmering and steaming under the heavy mist of the greying. In her mind, Teah rose higher and higher. She could soon take in all of Bigriverland, which now lay deserted and dark far below. She saw many frightened animals crossing the Bigriver into the Scented Forest. She swept down low over the remnants of the Big Forest. Amidst the devastation of the greying, a patch of colour shone brightly. Teah thought hard to find out why, to push through the barrier between her thinking and her knowing, but she could not break through. The mists which hovered over Dead Wood were tinted an eerie and impenetrable green.
Teah began to rise higher and higher— all the lands fell away beneath her, spreading far out and away from Landland. To the north a grey haze settled over a frozen wasteland. In the south, steaming heat spiralled up from a multitude of bog lands and swamps in the equatorial regions of the Firbog. To the east, the word, ‘Settleland’, sounded loud inside her head, but the vision was lost in a grey fog which refused to reveal what lay beneath … Finally, all became lost and her colour began to fade.
Teah toppled onto her back. She fought to open her eyes as Dalff and Mermie stood bending over her.
For a long time, Teah lay motionless and colourless, paler than her companions.
Even the fireflies, encased in their glassy ball, lay silent. They had ceased to illuminate.
To Dalff and Mermie it was almost as if the fireflies had sensed the hopelessness of the greying.
To Teah, the reality of the thinking was still sinking in. After all, she had not fully believed that she could do it, and after this one attempt she was not sure if she could, or should, try again.
Suddenly, a loud squawk, made Teah leap to her feet. Standing shoulder to shoulder with Mermie and Dalff, she stared up into the black canopy of the forest.
Teah lay on the ground with Mermie and Dalff at the perimeter of the wood. They waited for the two scouts to return.
The ground beneath Teah felt like a wet sponge, but the new fibrepillar cloak protected her from the dampness. She could not see much of the wood from where she lay. It all looked dark, so very dark and certainly uninviting. She wondered whether the stories about Dead Wood were real or not.
Teah looked up. The rain was falling in drifts across the landscape. Above the hiss of the rain she thought she could hear … a tap tap tapping. She listened harder.
Then flap flap flap … the sound of big wings beating through the air above her.
‘Look out,’ Dalff shouted.
The creature came straight for Teah and, flapping and hovering over her, it hooked the back of her cloak with a talon.
Dalff whipped a bolt from the quiver on his back, loaded his cross-bow and aimed. There was only time for one shot. He hit the creature in the breast. The head of the bolt lodged between two scales. With blood splattering the ground and Teah, the many-headed-winged-thing sped over Dead Wood.
Teah kept still as the creature flew higher. The stench of its rotten breath hit her in the face. Her heart raced, and her mind reeled … how much more more could she endure? Would the monster take her back to its lair and eat her?
Teah looked up over a fat scaled belly. The beast ducked a head down to stare at her. Teah screwed up her face at its ugliness. Then there were two heads, then three, all equal in their ugliness; all scales, slobber and bad breath.
The beast flapped on through the driving rain screeching a victory cry. Teah looked down to the tops of the dead trees. They were covering a great distance in no time at all. Suddenly the creature’s wings began to slow. There was no longer a steady beat to the flapping of the wings. Drops of bright red blood began again, flying back towards Teah. In desperation she flailed at her faced, trying to wipe away the blood.
The many-headed-winged-thing dipped lower towards the tops of the great trees, flying an erratic course. Was it searching for something?
The creature moaned and finally its wings stopped beating. The monster careered to left and right.
‘This is a wonderful place Fand, but I just don’t know what I should be doing any more. How long have I been here, and can I go? How can I go if you say I’m one of the gathered … are you going to keep me for ever?’
Fand studied Teah for a moment before sparkling as she spoke.
Fand shone like gold. With her soft light-filled voice and languid ways, Fand was like an angel.
‘I’m sorry Fand, what did you say?’
Fand began sparkling again. ‘In answer to your questions … yes, indeed, the Pitterpatterdell have gathered you and by our custom you must stay … and become one of us. They are the gatherers. We are the keepers …‘ Fand leaned in closer lowering her voice, ‘.…of lost souls.’
Teah looked downhearted and tried to protest. ‘But I have
things to …‘
‘Please, Teah, I haven’t finished answering your questions. As to the matter of how long you have been with us, it is of no consequence. Otherworldly time is no time at all. Everything exists here indefinitely. Since the Sithean retreated to the great Sidhe, we deal no longer with mortals, nor do we hold with their claim on time.’
Teah was trying to understand. ‘I see, then.’
‘We have not always been keepers. But you must understand …it is all we do these days. This is our lot in the otherworld. Would you have us go against what has been ordained?’
Teah didn’t know how to answer her, although she did wonder who had ordained it, so to speak. She didn’t have to answer for Fand continued.
‘I’m sorry, I’m supposed to be answering your questions. Now where were we?’ she sparkled again. ‘As I was saying, since you have been officially gathered, you really should stay here Teah, but somehow your soul has become fragmented. … and what would we do with a fragmented soul? Aha! I’m questioning again,’ she laughed.
Teah didn’t laugh. Leaning forward she exclaimed,’Fragmented?’
‘Yes, you have body, and mind to some extent … but you do not have psyche or heart. We must find them for you. And once the Sithean have restored a soul, we can never keep it‒ you see, a gift can never be taken back.’
Teah wanted to know want he meant, ‘Who’s coming Josh? Why me. What do they want me for?’
‘It’s the black-thing. They know you know how to use it. They want its power Teah. They need you to show them how to use it. We’ve got to get out of here fast!’
Grabbing Teah’s hand, Josh began to run.
Then, the screeching began.
Dark shadows swooped down upon them through the greying. Squealing peels of laughter assailed their ears. A tap tap tapping penetrated the mist . . .
The flap, flapping of big black wings sliced through the mist, herding them in all directions.
The drifts were blown around and torn apart by gusting winds, only to reveal the sinewy, dark shapes of the Homunculi as they dropped from the back of the many-headed-winged-thing.
Slipping and slithering through the fog, the Homunculi came at them. Biting and clawing and slathering in sheer delight, they chased Teah and Josh over The Sea of Grass.
Teah ran, still holding onto Josh’s hand, but there was nowhere to run to. In desperation they stood their ground.
Handing the totem pole to Teah, Josh unleashed a flurry of arrows from his bow into the mists around them. Howls of rage and pain replaced the squeals of eager delight.
There were too many of the horrible little things to contend with. Dodging and weaving, they came again from out of the mist. Marbled, yellow eyes shone beneath their blackened, furrowed brows. Greasy fingers clawed at them as Josh slashed with his sword.
Teah held the totem up high and released the hood. This seemed to unsettle the Homunculi. They dared not press their attack under the green light of the magic totem. Slinking back into the mist they lay lurking as if waiting for orders.
Puffing and panting, Teah screeched at Josh, ‘Leaping lemmings Josh! What the devil are they?’