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Adventure Fiction

This story contains sensitive content

*contains consensual sexual content*

March 20th,

Dear Diary,

Today I will take my first steps on Empyrean Island. A place from which, I have been assured by everyone, I will not return. It is most curious that all the stories can be wildly differing accounts: everything from demons and wild animals to portals to other realms. The only consistency, beside the inherent fear in each story, is that “no one EVER returns”.

At first these warnings intrigued me. Rather than deter me these tales made me more eager than ever to explore the Island’s secrets. However, as the date of my departure grew nearer the urgency with which I was begged to stay and the genuine fear for me that I saw in those around me gave me cause to hesitate.

Last night I was visited by the local priest. He offered me a blessing. I declined on the grounds of being a atheist. Nevertheless, he proceeded to utter his holy words, gesticulate and give me a good sprinkling of holy water. He gave me a chain from which hung a medallion of gold and bade me wear it at all times around my neck. He said it was for his benefit if not for mine, “I need to know that your soul is prepared for where you are going” he explained before leaving.

Am I doing the right thing? If I am “never to return” I think I shall have a second sausage and an extra slice of fried bread at breakfast.

March 20th (Evening of)

Dear Diary,

I am utterly exhausted. The Island may not look far away but it took two hours of rowing. I’ve secured my little boat above the water line and made camp for the night. The Island does not feel in the least bit sinister. I have to confess to feeling rather cosy though that may be due to the contents of my hipflask. Goodnight dear diary, its quite lovely that you are here with me.

March 21st,

Dear Beatrice,

Yes, dearest diary, I have renamed you. It feels more companionable to be thinking of you as a person as I write in your pages. I have named you Beatrice after my wife, she has been in my thoughts so often today. I broke camp this morning and have been slowly navigating the heavily forested terrain that covers the Island.

As I have no map to follow I have decided to simply head Eastwards toward the Island’s singular mountain. I figure I will climb as high as possible and get a good vantage point from which to view the wild beauty of this unspoiled land. Beatrice would have loved it here, that is the real Beatrice not you dear diary. She loved wild things, she said that was why she loved me. I regret my inconsistency in my treatment of her. I broke far too many promises. What a fool I was. I am too temperamental. I blow hot and cold; I wax and wane. I should have braved hell and highwater to keep my vows. I am sorry Beatrice.

March 22nd,

Dear Beatrice,

This afternoon I stumbled into another campsite. I had been clambering through vine draped trees when I could have sworn one of them moved in an unexpected way. Fearing a snake I lurched to the side, lost my footing and found myself half slipping, half running down a steep incline. After landing unceremoniously at the bottom I did a quick body check and was relieved to find no broken bones or open wounds.

As I stood up I caught a glimpse of a campsite. I hallooed and called out to announce myself but got no reply. The place was deserted. I followed a trail which led me to what once was a cave or tunnel entrance. However, it had caved in on itself and was blocked completely. I fear that the campsite’s occupants may well have been on the other side as it collapsed.

I have returned to the campsite and will rest here for the night. Now I have had more time to explore the campsite it is obvious that it has not been occupied for a very long time. I am now convinced that what remains of its inhabitants is entombed behind or underneath the rockfall I found earlier.

While searching I found a diary in one of the tents. I read it while I enjoyed my makeshift tea of cold camping rations. I am already missing a cooked meal. Beatrice you were a wonderful cook. I never told you how much I appreciated coming home to such delights as your cottage pie, slow cooked stews, roasted meats and steamed puddings. Opening the door I would be warmly greeted by delicious smells wafting from the kitchen as you sang along to the radio, dancing in your apron and slippers.

The diary was mostly filled with data, notations and formulas. From what little I could glean the occupants of the camp were a young, very ambitious, research team of geologists. Their aim it seems had been to discover, for glory and profit, any mineral deposits of worth the Island may have held. It seems to me the Island had may have had other ideas about being plundered for personal wealth and fame.

March 23rd,

Dear Beatrice,

Perhaps the water was tainted or some bacterium within the camp infected me but I spent the night in fevered dreaming. I feel quite myself again this morning but I am quite shaken and worn out. I will rest here again today. I am not afraid of staying here another night because, dear Beatrice, what dreams!

I dreamed I was back in your arms. Making love over and over again in endless heated ecstasy. I swear I could feel the heat of your skin against mine, your lips so soft and inviting, taking me in whole with flickering, agile tongue, stroking and caressing so intimately. My fingers entwined in your soft hair, pulling and thrusting and being pulled in ever deeper feeling warmth and wetness and sweet perfect pleasurable pressure. My hands and mouth exploring every inch of you, suckling, kissing and tasting, the spine tingling feeling of your cool breath on my warm skin and the taste of you on my tongue exactly as I remember. Our bodies in tune as we moved tenderly one minute and urgently the next, alternating rhythms and positions. Simultaneously wanting to both satisfy and delay the inevitable climax. Collapsing as bodies and souls melted into one sticky, sweaty, satiated mass of beloved flesh.

Oh Beatrice why, why did I ever let you go? I should have held on tighter. I should have paid attention. I should have seen the signs.

March 24th,

Dear Beatrice,

I have discovered new friends! This morning I came to the edge of the forest and before me lay lush green fields and what I can only describe as a little village. I was welcomed heartily by the handful of fellow explorers that have made this place their home.

John-Paul and Francis seem to be the village “Chiefs” although they were keen to point out they all live as a democracy, sharing work and ideas. John-Paul explained that he and Francis had been tired of hiding their relationship and living in fear of the repercussions for themselves and their families should they be “discovered” as a couple in their own home town. They had come to the Island for an adventure but when they found this valley John-Paul had seen the potential to live here as they wished to live; in peace and without judgment.

Other explorers had followed the same path and while some carried on further a few, over the decades, had decided to call this place home and the village had grown. Animals, fruit and vegetables were farmed and a nearby stream provided fish and water for irrigation and washing. Drinking water came from an well and they even produced their own alcoholic beverage which, dear Beatrice, I have to confess went down a treat.

As they are not great in numbers the whole village works together, eats together and spends most evenings together drinking homemade hooch and talking under the stars. Such conversation as I have never experienced before, philosophy, science, psychology, religion, everything, debated, discussed, argued and probed. If only they would rejoin society; these people could save the world. If, that is, the world would listen to them.

March 25th,

Dear Beatrice,

I left the village with a heavy heart and a somewhat heavy head. My back pack was replenished with fresh food and drink to sustain my expedition onwards. Though I do feel it may be a while before I will feel up to imbibing from my refilled hip flask.

John-Paul walked with me and we talked as we followed a track that climbed slowly into the foothills of the mountain. Before he left me he told me to stick to the path and before many miles I would find myself passing another small settlement. He advised me that here a group of women had settled and set themselves up as a defense force for the Island. They traded meat from their hunts with the village and provided help if needed. “They will ask you to surrender any weapons you may have.” he told me. “I would strongly suggest that you do so.”

With a wave we parted ways and soon the track took me to the village he had described. Stone huts stood on either side of the track and the wind was chillier here. I looked back and could see that the winding path I had pleasantly strolled along had taken me to a much higher altitude.

The track brought me to a style that would take me over a stone wall and I was just putting my foot on the first step when I caught a movement at the edge of my sight. I turned and to my amazement two women stepped forward appearing as if by magic. They had been so silent, still and camouflaged that I had completely missed their presence.

“If you wish to continue, you must leave behind any and all weapons. Nothing of iron or steel must pass this wall.” The woman’s voice was quiet and non threatening but it held that quality of confidence that is only possessed by those who know they will be heeded.

“I..I..I.. have nothing on me other than my knife.” I stammered.

“Leave it here or turn back.”

I knew no argument would be tolerated and laying my knife down on top of the wall I turned back to talk to the women but they had simply vanished. I knew now that they were there, somewhere, I just could not get my senses to detect them. Dear Beatrice what hunters they must be!

As I mounted the style I heard a quiet voice on the wind say “Weapons would not help with what comes next. If you have lived an honest life you need have no fear.” I have no hesitation in confessing I nearly turned around and ran. Instead I held fast, breathed deep and screwing up every ounce I had of courage climbed over the style and carried on up the narrow trail.

March 26th,

Dear Beatrice,

After an uncomfortable cold night huddled in my sleeping bag in a small hollow beneath some stunted shrubbery, which did little to provide cover from the chill winds, I recommenced my climb. My trail led ever upwards and soon I was no longer walking on grassland and heather, now my footsteps crunched down on rock and gravel. I had to watch the ground before me with care so I didn’t trip or twist an ankle.

Perhaps it was because my eyes were so focused on the ground that I did not realise the danger that was gathering above me in the skies. It was only when I heard a bone chilling cry that I looked up. The shrill sound split the air and was soon answered by others among the birds gathering above me. Eagles. Six or seven of them whirling in effortless circles, their great wings barely moving.

I had barely time to register their presence before the first one swooped down, talons and beak ready to strike. Instinctively, I ducked and covered my head. I saved my sight by mere inches but I felt warm blood start to drip down past my ear and soak into my collar. In shock I stumbled forward. I tried to hurry along the path hoping to find shelter. I ran in a crouch my arms protecting my head and eyes but more of them swooped and struck with razor sharp precision. Hair was ripped from my head, my right ear torn by a vicious beak.

The words whispered to me by the wall rang again in my mind. I fell to my knees and cried out “I HAVE BEEN A GOOD MAN. I HAVE LIVED A HONEST LIFE!”. I wept, terrified and humbled by nature’s attack. I pressed my hand to my chest and felt the shape of the medallion the priest had given me. Dear Beatrice, you have known me to be nothing but a complete and unrepentant unbeliever but in that moment I prayed. I pulled out the medallion and held it to the sky and I begged God to believe in me and save me, swearing on everything I hold dear, including you, that I was a good and true soul. The attack ceased. It could have been minutes or hours later, I do not recall. I know only that when I finally dared to look up the birds had gone and the skies were clear and free from any threat.

March 27th,

Dear Beatrice,

Once more I find a friend. His name is Peter and he has made a home of sorts in a nearby cave. He has kindly nursed my wounds, bathing them in ice cold water and anointing me with herbal remedies. I have endured his stinging ministrations with gratitude and I am now feeling much better and definitely calmer. I am not sure what herbs have been brewed into his tea but I am certain they have positive effects. The hooch in my hip flask was swiftly used as a disinfectant much to my initial annoyance but I must admit this tea more than makes up for my loss.

Peter lives up here, isolated by choice, in contemplative seclusion. He says he feels closer to God’s truth here. He lives simply, with so few resources I wonder at his discipline. He, in turn, seems surprised that I would expect him to want anything more.

March 28th,

Dear Beatrice,

My sleep last night was deep and dreamless. Perhaps it was due to Peter’s herbal tea or perhaps it is because I feel as though I have passed through some personal crisis. My heart feels lighter Beatrice. My mind feels unclogged and I see my own life now with clarity.

Peter asked me if I held a Faith, a belief in the spiritual. Until yesterday I would have said no but now I find that I do. In need I cried out to God and I believe He answered.

Peter asked me if I had Hope. I affirmed that I did. Hope has never left me. I have always lived a hopeful life and my dearest, cherished hope is that one day I will be reunited with my beloved Beatrice.

Finally, Peter asked if I understood Love. I told him that for me Love wasn’t one thing but all things together. That Love is passion, kindness and forgiveness. Love is also sorrow, pain and arguments. In the wrong hands it can be twisted into evil stinging knots but it can never be broken or erased from the world. Love waits until it is noticed, until you can recognise and accept it. Until you finally see that it was always by your side.

March 29th,

Dear Beatrice,

Peter says I’m ready for my final ascent. He points towards the top of the mountain where a dazzling brightness emanates from the rocks. There he tells me I should follow the path through an tunnel of stone. He warns me that the tunnel is dark but assures me I will be safe and at its end I will find the answers I am seeking.

I follow his instructions and blindly feel my way through the darkness. I have no fear and I am soon blinking rapidly as I step back into the light. The mountain’s peak is hollow forming a vast shallow bowl which is beautiful to behold. I am on a wide ledge of solid rock which stretches out before me culminating in a crude temple from which emanates a light so pure it feels like life itself is shining on me.

As I approach the temple I note it’s pillars are entwined with roses and marvel that such a plant could thrive here. Their heady scent lies in the air, the flower petals drift like confetti and stir in the breeze. At the centre of the temple I see three circles of light, bright and pure and in perfect balance with each other. At first that is all I see and then it is as if everything comes fully into focus and standing in the midst of the circles is my Beatrice. She is now more lovely and beautiful than I have ever known her.

Dearest Diary I must leave you behind now as I have my Beatrice to be my companion and follow into unknown adventures with. I cannot take you with me. It had been my intention to be the first to return from Empyrean and bring this story back into the world. However, I do not have the wings within me to fly back along that path; I find it is not my flight to take.

April 26, 2024 21:54

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7 comments

Alexis Araneta
14:31 Apr 27, 2024

So rich in detail, this one. Splendid !

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Melanie Yorke
17:11 Apr 27, 2024

Thank you :)

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William Smith
22:15 May 04, 2024

I love the reveal at the end, who Beatrice is, and the link to Dante. Stories like that make me go back and reread them with the new eye of what they are really about. Great work.

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Melanie Yorke
11:41 May 07, 2024

Thank you.

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Lee Kendrick
21:32 May 02, 2024

Well written story, with emotion and feeling. Good luck in the competition and your future stories Lee Kendrick

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David Sweet
12:51 Apr 28, 2024

Of course he would not want to leave Heaven [Empyrean] and his beloved Beatrice! I finally caught the parallels and connections between Dante and Beatrice and this journey the main character here had to go through to change his perspective on God. Thanks for the journey.

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Melanie Yorke
10:20 Apr 29, 2024

Thank you, so pleased you made the connections with Dante and enjoyed the journey.

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