Originally part of the “Cycle of Seven“, Lilith was written during my high school years for the school’s magazine, and it was one of the very first short stories I have ever written. After personally translating it into English, however, I later realised that it works better as a prologue for a longer story, rather than as a finished story by itself. I decided to take it out of the Cycle, and replace it with “The Untamable Heart“, which you will soon find in these pages.
Lilith is a dark-fantasy short story, focusing on the dawn of mankind and the birth of love. The birth of a demon-goddess brings some new light on the dark lands of men, fighting with each other for mere forms of power; a young boy will travel to find the goddess, changing forever the fate of mankind itself.
All the short stories in the Cycle of Seven appear here in their first draft version. All formatting, spelling, and grammar mistakes were fixed in later versions of the stories, revised for self-publication. A link to the book will be provided when available.
“… and Men loved Darkness rather than Light.“
– John (III, 19)
They tell stories of a time in which men didn’t love. A time in which men would be blinded by their own pride, a time in which a heart couldn’t be warmed up by an embrace of a pair of caring eyes. A time lost in ages, spread in the neverending flow of time, shattered by (in)volution and the slow, deep, everlasting disclosure of feelings. There was no Man who wouldn’t try to get advantage of one of its kind, no Man immune to the corruption of an innate instinct – an instinct that some of us have now learned to tame. But allow yourselves to sit and listen, gentlemen, for there is no human being, today like yesterday and even before, who wouldn’t move in front of the pure energy of a smile or the warmth of a beloved hand. And, sometimes, Love can also reach lost ages, ages with no space nor time, in which “Where” is left to chance and “How” is nothing but one of Fate’s whims.
The crimson, noiseless dawn shone on the lands of men, immersed in their cold and monotonous lives wanting a common sense to put them together, to strengthen their bonds, to indulge their instinct of living in peace with their kind. But Men were never good, in Love: wars, deaths and famines infuriated in the world, never satiated by a hunger that couldn’t find ease nor truce. Chaos ruled, incited by mankind’s thirst of power and by the cold satisfaction of a temporary victory over their enemies. Lands, women, gold: these were the engines that drove the neverending advance of men over men.
But here’s that, once in a while, a wail could be heard: a small cry of innocence, an instant in the life of a generation, a hope for men and their kind. Fights, disagreements and battles would stop for an instant, filling their ears with the sweet cry of a baby. The tiny flame would rise, majestic, over the heads of men, reminding them of their origins and their instinct, a natural and necessary quest for a common sense, a mutual feeling. But even those small flames, sooner or later, would start to tremble, shake, fade until they would vanish; and men forgot, once again, where their Light was guiding them.
There was a cry, however, that was never forgotten: a scream that awoke the eras, shaking them from the inside out and marking a new beginning. A small light of hope, so frail and pure, that it brought mankind on its path again, and it never had them go astray in the everlasting quest for their missing half.
It came from a far away land, a place with no space in which dark powers plotted their plans, in which there was no life without a bigger shadow to darken it; it was Lilith’s cry, a young goddess whose fate was written ever since she was born.
There was a boy who heard Lilith’s cry, and he was so affected by it that he had to interrupt his whole life to listen and follow it. He chased it through plains, woods, mountains and Time itself, pushed by an unbendable force that no one ever was able to describe. No one else could hear Lilith’s cry and not even its far echo, but the young man was sure he didn’t go crazy: he heard a cry, so pure and innocent that it woke up his soul and pushed him to travel, all the way across the dry lands looking for its sad source. And the cry grew up, mutating with him, changing in tone, timbre, and intensity; almost as if the young woman emitting it was calling him to herself with more strength, as the years went by and lands became darker and more corrupted by darkness.
Meanwhile, in the Realm of Shadows, Lilith was growing up, and she was growing up in all her glory. There was no Demon whose most inner desire was not to have her by his side, there was no God who wouldn’t love her beauty and grace, there was no living being, to put it briefly, who was immune to her qualities. But all those entities were nothing but shells, empty bodies without feelings, primordial instincts at their purest essence: no one would have been enough for Lilith, the only goddess of shadows to know the meaning of feelings and the strength of the heart, and no one would ever love her like she deserved. No one would ever make her feel complete.
And Lilith grieved for her loneliness, giving up, with her tears, to all the feelings the world had given her, a sentence in a body constantly looking for its entirety. Lilith, a demon-goddess, a controversial and conflicting being, was nothing but a tormented soul, and an incomplete one at its best; a soul looking for serenity.
Lilith’s cry sounded like a call for the boy, who never stopped hoping for the ultimate meeting between him and the unknown owner of that voice. And yet she constantly slipped away, as her cry deceived him, guiding him towards regions he had already been to, and echoing among the fronds of trees like a slippery petal borrowed by the wind. She escaped from his control, deluding him to be close and then vanishing, just like she appeared, materialising in the far mountains or in the darkest valleys. And the young man wandered, again and again, avoiding his kind and fleeing from the corruption of the world: he didn’t wish anything else but meeting her and drying her tears, whatever the cost and whatever the means.
There was a day in which the young man came to a land he had never seen before, a land unknown even for the most advanced maps of his civilisation. A land in which the sun couldn’t shine, shrouded by a dome of rock that covered the entire region, as if he was about to enter a gigantic cave on the flat surface of the Earth. The place was all but friendly in looks and feeling, but the young man didn’t lose heart: the voice resonated as strong as ever in those dark caves and paths, and this was enough to let the boy go deep into the unknown ways of the Dark Region, oblivious of what he was about to find.
The Land in Between was arid, lacking in vegetation, but featuring several sizes of hills, and long plains of grey dirt to veil uncountable layers of rocks all across the region. Ever-bloomed trees and shrubs ruled over the territory, similarly to a dark valley that never saw light nor colours. The only sources of light were the Fluids, never-ending rivers of boiling magma scattered all across the region, that would have otherwise left the whole cave in some kind of total darkness and glacial cold. No man had ever reached that place, before; no man had ever dared to approach the Realm of Shadows, nor they even theorised its existence. And the boy’s arrival didn’t pass unnoticed to the eyes of the dark inhabitants of the cave.
Small, hunchbacked, and dirty, those shiny-eyed, minuscule beings observed him as a whole with rapacious attitude, as if they wished to jump on him at any moment. However, their eyes were filled with fear: none of them would dare to throw himself at the young man, who was way taller and heavier than they were, although slower and less agile. And they evidently weren’t used to working as a team: some of them escaped, some others remained to watch, perhaps reflecting on the right move to make. Almost everyone of them, though, tried to prevent him from going forward, by clutching his ankles and trying to slow down his pace. The young man knew that he couldn’t let his legs give up, or he would have been a much more vulnerable target for a bunch of fearsome cavemen.
Held back by the dark creatures, the young man felt heavier at every step, as the voice who guided him there was starting to fade away. It couldn’t be another wasted journey, not after all the miles he had been through, or after trying to shake off all those creatures for hours. Although the cave was still stretching away for miles and miles, far beyond the visible horizon, the young man hoped and sensed that, at the end of that path, he would find an answer for the voice that had led him so far, during the past years of his life.
All of a sudden, he fell to the ground, worn out and overwhelmed by the weight the dark creatures imposed on his ankles. Hope, that never left his heart before, started to slip away in the few moments that followed his fall, as the creatures drew near to watch him from a closer angle. It was just a matter of instants, now; then, everything would be lost.
But it wasn’t the end: a voice resonated through the cave, scattering the little creatures all around. It was as if they feared it; and yet, it was such a sweet voice!
Then, he recognised her: the source of the desperate cry he heard for so many years, the everlasting torment that led him through his journey and gave him a purpose, his being’s only yearning. The woman whose voice echoed through the valleys and the mounts, guiding his soul in the dry lands. Lilith was there; although, for the young boy, she didn’t have a name yet.
The young Goddess looked at him just once; she read his tired eyes in the dark, and she understood: there was nobody, neither in the dry lands nor in the Realm of Shadows, able to fulfill his being like that boy would do.
But the eyes of the young man opened wide all of a sudden, and Lilith instinctively hid her face in her hands, well aware of the fact that no mortal eyes would ever appreciate the beauty of the underworld. No one, among all men, would ever find her “beautiful”. She possessed typical features from the Realm of Shadows, demonic traits, traits that a normal eyes would have found disgusting, as used as it was to entirely different likings. Young Lilith turned around to go back to her world, crying and tormented by a hushed sorrow that, however, was heard by the boy’s ears… And made him feel home.
The young man instantly stood to his feet and ran to take Lilith’s hand, whose voice had saved his life. She didn’t have otherworldly looks anymore, not to his eyes, at least: her appearance mutated, becoming the most beautiful symbol of mortal beauty the young man had ever seen. His eyes lighted up with a light that no man had witnessed before… And Lilith’s cry was appeased, for the first time in her life.
Lilith taught Love, Hope, and Trust to the young boy. He, in exchange, promised her Protection, Understanding, Respect, and Support, till death would come to tear them apart. With Lilith, the young boy learned to love; with Lilith, mankind knew Love, and Care.
Their love “in-between”, a bridge between the mortal realm and the world of darkness, breathed life into a newborn that wasn’t a son of men nor shadows, an infant representing a perfect union of both worlds and of every good that was in them. A baby born from Love and Feelings, from Care, Protection, and Support; the first complete “human being”, the first one that was born from Love.
But such union couldn’t go unnoticed to the King of Shadows’ eyes, and vain were Lilith’s attempts to bring him back to reason; the birth of the boy infuriated him, and the King, blinded by jealousy, locked Lilith away in the darkest region of the Realm of Shadows, bringing her apart from the young boy – forever. As an eternal punishment, the young boy was “gifted” with a corrupted memory of the Goddess.
And the King striked the baby with a powerful curse, severing his soul in two and making him incomplete for the rest of his days. He then scattered the two halves in two separated regions of the Lands of Men, confusing each of them into a community made up of the old dark men, which were hypocrites, and mean-spirited. And so, the two halves, each of them unaware of the other one’s existence and yet wanting to rejoin, found themselves forced to an eternal seek, part of a place that wasn’t meant for her – and would never be.
And the corrupted memory of Lilith wandered across the dry lands, through the same mouth of a man who once loved her, and who would now pass on a mean tale of her to the rest of mankind – a tale that would condemn her to an eternal cry, down there, in the depths of the Unholy Realm.
Copyright © 2018, Anthony Wolf