Excerpt: “The Bardach”

It’s sunset; she loves sunset. Somehow it feels like home, the pearlescent sky comforting in familiar tones of peach and gold. Pulling her cloak a little tighter around her shoulders, Nameless turns away from the shimmering valley that almost echoes the view of her home realm. Impatiently, she brushes away a strand of long black hair that’s fallen over her shoulder. She hates her hair; it’s too dark and the faint auburn highlights are too dim to match the golden-tinged red she dreams about.

She walks into the shadows of the forest as the sun cowers into the mountains behind her. Her vision shifts, filling with a golden luminescence that bathes the darkness around her in clarity. She feels a pang of nostalgia in the shimmering transition of her eyes; her past disappearing like a mirage, tangible only for a second and forgotten nearly as fast. She only knows the present. Her mission is simple, to wander the lands and teach the Storytellers. This is the only life she has known and the only one she will ever know. Yet she still feels that something is missing—a hollow place where emotion used to reside.

She shivers to rid herself of the thought and concentrates on picking her way through the underbrush. Soon, it is too thick for her to pass through in her human state. Without pausing, she utters a low howl and feels the warm wind of the spirit world envelope her, shrinking and twisting her limbs until she moves on silent paws. She feels the power of the Nightwolf’s form as she weaves like smoke through the shadowy interior of the forest. She feels at peace in this form; complete. Even though she knows it is temporary, the link between herself and the Nightwolf tenuous, she revels in the smooth grace of the wolf.

Like a shadow coalescing, she leaves the shelter of the trees, stopping to look over the village below. A small whimper draws her attention to the child huddled beside a nearby boulder. The boy’s body shakes visibly and his wide eyes stare at her in terror. As she peers into their bright depths, a cold blaze sears through her, severing her link to the Nightwolf like a swift arrow severs life. Suddenly her mind is filled with images; a woman with reddish-gold hair, a cobalt robe with silver thread, a blue fire streaking toward her, the feel of a once familiar chest and arms wrapped around her, the distorted features of someone she once loved and the flashing silver of a sword, a pair of bright yellow eyes.

Her mind reels inside the Nightwolf’s body. Her wolf form thrashes, rippling between the two halves of her identity, becoming a mutated version of both. She screams as she feels herself ripped fully apart from the Nightwolf and forced painfully back into her human form. The boy echoes her scream before finally fleeing in a scramble of frightened limbs. She doesn’t even notice his absence as she falls to her knees and brings her hands to her head, trying to quell the flood of memories that aren’t hers. She feels her hair spilling forward and opens her eyes just enough to see that it flashes with a reddish-gold hue. Her eyes snap open and she grabs at the locks of strange colored hair, confused and terrified.

“What’s happening?” she demands of no one, feeling her sanity begin to shatter like glass around her. “Who am I?”

A loud growl sounds in her head, drowning the noise of her own thoughts, and she feels the dam fall back in place, stopping the tide of images as swiftly as they had erupted. Panting, she looks again at the hair clutched in her fists. It glimmers with its usual black hue; gone is the strawberry color she had seen a moment before. She takes a deep breath and stands, feeling her panic melt away and her sense of peace returning.

“I am Nameless,” she says to herself, “I am a Storyteller, nothing more. Those images were simply a story loosed too soon, not memories. I have no memories.” But even as she says the familiar words of reassurance, she feels a vague sense of unease undermining them. She remembers the eyes of the little boy, and the way they had seemed strangely familiar.


The Nightwolf’s command soothes the last of her unrest, and smoothing the folds of her cloak, she focuses again on her mission. Turning, she heads back into the forest, choosing to seek employment for her Storyteller skills somewhere else. She doesn’t admit to herself that she’s actually afraid to face that little boy, to learn the secrets she felt he held, and to see what that unspoken bond might tell her. She dares one last look over her shoulder, and a small voice in her head promises that she will return one day. She will find that boy again, and maybe…

As the woman that had been Amyli disappears into the trees, the Nightwolf watches from the shadows. He glares in the direction the little boy ran, a growl beginning low in his throat like a promise. He backs further into the depths of the darkness, seeming to disappear until only his eyes are left visible, glowing like twin candles on a moonless night. From the village below, they are as small and insignificant as fireflies, but one little boy knows the truth, and he watches, waiting for Nameless to return.

~© Copyright Kisa Whipkey 2008~

All Rights Reserved

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There is also another, smaller, excerpt available here.

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