This is an early draft of the prologue to Lyskerrys and is liable to change – possibly a lot! It is also not guaranteed to be free of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
The man balancing precariously on the small stone platform at the very lip of the waterfall was a thief. He hadn’t always been a thief, having only made that particular career choice a few hours earlier, and if appearances were anything to go by, he wasn’t going to be a thief very much longer.
The platform was barely large enough to accommodate both of the man’s feet at the same time, and to even accomplish this he had place one foot on top of one another so that the sole of one of his boots overlapped and pinned down the other. The slightest movement of the trapped foot threatened to upset his balance and trip him over the edge of the precipice. He felt incredibly unsafe; a sensation familiar to him from a thousand nightmares where his awareness encountered his dreaming self in some precariously exposed position at a terrifying altitude, with climbing his only possible escape, but where that very movement would surely cause him to fall.
Before him the thief’s world dropped away vertically to where the water’s freefall ended in a thunderous tumult, if he didn’t look down he could imagine that he was suspended in the air hundreds of metres above the earth.
The thief lifted his gaze to the night sky, fragile veils of dust thousands of light years across twisted and rippled through the void between the stars, illuminated in glowing reds and greens by the same stars whose radiation was tearing them to shreds. Incomprehensibly distant supernovae blossomed before his eyes and died in an instant. The stars themselves were astonishingly bright and clear, and shone with a purity that illuminated the dark places in the man’s soul. The thief swallowed and blinked away a sudden swell of emotion. No matter how many times he saw this scene, he never became accustomed to it. Reminded of his significance in the unimaginable enormity of the cosmos, the thief returned his attention to the present moment.
Thick glassy ropes of water slid past him on either side reflecting the hard white light of the stars, the flow so smooth that it almost appeared solid. The hypnotic movement of the water invited him to join it in its plunge to oblivion in the rolling mists below.
The stone he was standing on had been worked; it was architectural rather than natural. More like it were positioned at regular intervals to either side, protruding from the surface of the water like crenellations on a submerged castle wall, and each one was green and treacherously slick with algae.
A sickening rush of vertigo tore the thief’s gaze away from the churning water far beneath him. The horizon tilted alarmingly as he struggled to regain his balance and the block of stone he was standing on, that had previously felt so solid was transformed in the thief’s mind into an unstable floe adrift in a maelstrom of movement. Instinctively he crouched lower, extending his arms to try and balance himself. A slow smile spread across his face and he started laughing as he appreciated how ridiculous it was to react in such a way with what he had planned, “still,” he thought, “Instinct.”
Resisting the oddly soporific urge to follow the path of the water down with his eyes, and keeping his attention locked on the horizon, the thief patted at his jacket pocket to reassure himself that the reason for him being in this position in the first place was still tucked safely inside. A reassuring solidness met his touch. There was really no need for him to check; the weight of the object was such that he could feel it pulling down the side of his jacket and thudding against his hip with each exaggerated step he had taken to get here as he leaped from stone to treacherous stone. Now that he had regained his balance to his fear’s satisfaction he slipped his hand into his pocket and closed his fingers around what lay within. For a gemstone it was surprisingly large. Withdrawing it, he gazed adoringly downward. The thief’s pupils dilated and his eyes became glazed and unfocused. Once more he smiled as a feeling of utter contentment flowed through him. The jewel loved him; he had stolen it from where it had lain, for thousands of years for all he knew, and yet still it loved him.
Had anyone been present to observe the thief at that time, they would have seen him close his eyes in ecstasy as his face was bathed in the aquamarine glow that flowed languidly from the gemstone just before he stepped forward into the void.
He really hoped that he was right about the jewel.