Grotto Header

Nimue's Grotto

Mother Love

by Ryan Hale

A sliver of light cut through the expanse of darkness creating a transparent but colorful wall filled with floating particles of dancing dust, and danger. Sarah had to cross it and cross it fast. It wouldn't be long until that sliver exploded into a fiery ball and shattered all the darkness. Darkness her and her babies depended on right now.

She hurried across the exposed patch of land and felt safe once she was back in the shadows. The ridge ahead of her, a cliff face, was her refuge. She had climbed it before, and spotted the perfect place to raise her little ones. A warm home where she could watch them grow. It wouldn't be easy, but it wasn't out of the scope of her abilities either.

She craned her head to look up as she finally got to the base of the cliff. She could see the top, but only because of the massive overhang that delineated it. She studied the cliff face and she found the holds she needed. She took a deep breath and began the climb. Her legs were steady and she slowly began the ascent as she pushed all of the fear out of her mind.

Her mother had taught her to climb and it may have been the only decent thing her cold heart had ever allowed. She remembered fondly though the climbs she took with her sisters in the trees outside where she was raised, until one by one they all moved away. Including her mother. Sarah never forgot the morning she woke up alone.

Alone in the world she had struggled, and when she herself found motherhood thrust upon her she made a vow not to repeat the sins of her own mother. This was her quest. Her quest to prove that she could be loving mother. One who nurtures and provides. One who cares, and loves. She climbed on, not looking down. They would never wake up alone. She swore it.

# # #

The Sorceress Queen sat on her stool and watched her servant rock the sleeping baby Princess. She twirled her wand in her hand and with a twist of the wrist a faint blue glow suddenly appeared and then died, and a glass of wine floated smoothly across the room from the mantle of the massive stone fireplace. She whisked it out of the air with nonchalant precision, without even looking. She took a drink and gazed at the cradle that held her sweet daughter. She would have everything in life. Such a sweet smile. Such a wonderful, knowing look in her eye. She was special. Not just because she was a Princess, she was truly special. The one the Prophecy spoke of.

It wasn't just her suspicion that it was so. It wasn't because of some spell she had cast. It just was, and now it was official. The Queen looked down into her lap and picked up the latest edition of The Oracle Times. There she was on the front cover of the magazine, her sleeping Princess Sabrina -Savior of the World, Fulfiller of the Prophecy. With her long and slender finger she gently traced the outline of her daughters beautiful face on the cover. Suddenly she heard a whimper from her daughter and decided it would be a good time to look at her for real, instead of the picture.

It was so hard though! Her daughter was on the cover of The Oracle Times! There was so much jealousy floating around the Empire right now, every woman with a hint of magic and baby was cursing her name. None more than The Witch of North Wind, Rebecca De Liverioux. And all she could think was...

-Yeah. Stick it, Becky!

She laid down her wand and rose off her stool to go gaze upon the sweet young soul. With anticipation she rolled up the copy of the magazine as she crossed the stone floor, towards the warm hearth and the sleeping child.

# # #

Sarah reached the top of the cliff and readied herself for the hardest part of her mission. She wouldn't be able to just walk into the new home she chose for herself and her children. Something with an entrance like that wouldn't be safe enough. She had to drop into this one from the overhang. That's what made it so perfect. So safe.

She anchored her line and steadied herself. Some parts of her couldn't believe she was doing this. It was surreal to be this close to her dream of having a home and family. She was excited and nervous. Terrified and elated. She was everything, all at once. With a gritty determination that can't be taught, but must be earned through a life of hardship, she cast herself off the cliff. Her line and the wind sailed her away. It was liberating to feel the wind in her hairs, blowing past her legs. A leap of faith. The view was amazing once she wasn't staring at the cliff face. The only thing that mattered though was the home. The dark warm cave, and it was directly below her. She pulled back on her line to slow herself and her babies.

Sarah was lined up perfectly. Almost there.

# # #

The Queen smiled as her sleeping babe came into view. Laying on her side, she was the vessel of perfection. Fulfilled, the Queen glanced back towards the fireplace, staring at the embers as they grew flames that devoured the night. She caught something with the corner of her eye and with a terror reached out and swatted the air above the Princess's ear with the magazine, resulting in a nearly silent splat sound. She unrolled the magazine and swore. The copy was ruined! She'd have to find another one somewhere.

She couldn't frame this copy, not with a dead spider on it.

About the Author

Ryan Hale realized his love for writing in the 8th grade, and the value it had in entertaining his peers while annoying his Reading teacher. He enjoys writing short stories because of the lack of commitment implied right from the start. He has three children, all boys, and has taken upon himself the challenge of ensuring his level of maturity, when appropriate in their company, is right on par with theirs. He loves sarcasm nearly as much as irony and lives in the Northeast but hates the cold and thinks it's a stupid personal failure on his part that he doesn't live in Florida.