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Virelai Tylwyth


Make a wish.



You are a fool.” The voices echoed in the darkness, chasing with teeth and snarling.

I know this to be true. But still she ran, out of breath, out of time, out of the will to survive. Yes, a fool is surely what I've become. However, it was not really a matter of becoming. It was that which never changes, which was rooted deep within. That fickle nature of humanity that clung ever still to this suffocating skin of mortal man. It was a fragment of a soul, long broken, and yet still persistent in its pestering, buried within an impostor's body.

Poor, stupid, little girl.”

She should have been able to make it, should have had time and power enough to reach that hallowed sanctuary secreted away. But Virelai had not accounted for the child. Not his weight, nor his essence, nor the fact that he might wake. Might come too when they came barreling out of the abyssal dark and crashing into an autumn forest, despite it being spring in the Mortal Realm.

The hair on the back of Vir's neck stiffened as she rolled to a stop, knocking free whatever wind there was to spare in her flooding lungs. She dared not move, held perfectly still, and swept her eyes through the trees from where she lay, neck craned to see. There was a hungry silence here, the silence of hunting, the silence of death come to follow her home. Chasing shadows.

And then that silence was filled with a terrified shrieking. The woman's body twisted around and clasped a bloody hand over the boy's mouth so fast that he scarcely had time to begin the second scream. “Hush.” She whispered above his head as her eyes scanned the too quiet scenery. She could feel herself coming undone and tried to shake the numbness from her limbs.

The boy struggled, gasping against her palm before his lips parted and she felt tiny monster teeth sink into her fingers. Her hand clenched and she hissed, reflexively pressing sharp nails against his face like something out of a nightmare. She did not break the skin but still, he gulped and grew became, as she spoke softly into his fear-filled silence. “I do not particularly want to kill you right this moment. But if you do not be quiet you are going to bring death to us both.”

He closed his jaw tighter, and she thought he really intended to bit her finger clean through as blood gushed from the fresh wound. Virelai sighed softly and spoke as though it was becoming more and more difficult to breathe. “Very well, child. I will make you a promise, hmm? I will let you live.” She laughed quietly, the sound barely carrying over the rustling of leaves. “I will even help you survive beyond tonight if I make it through this. But in return, you must be quiet and do as I say.”

There was hesitation there, a moment where the pressure of his teeth loosened. As if to tell Vir that he was listening. Clever and brave? Or reckless and foolhardy? She thought and a wry smile twisted her bluing lips. “I never lie. I am a creature of my word. However, those who are looking for us are not so kind. They will not offer you such a thing and you will be lucky if you end up one of their thralls serving drinks at their extravagant parties or running errands like a page. But more likely, they will not let you live.”

The child's head jerked back, shock and cold fright coming away from him in waves, but he remained silent. Her hand reached up and she smeared the blood from her weeping finger across his forehead. “Tobias. I will ensure that your life remains your own for as long as I am able. In turn, you must promise never to forget this day. Do you understand?” The head of dark hair bobbed shakily, face pale in the darkness, expression afraid but listening. She decided then perhaps it was clever and brave after all.

Really, Shuyr. A bargain with a mortal child? To protect it, no less?” That voice was hot wind ripping down her spine, cleaving her open. Distant and yet so close she could feel the words forming against her ear. And then suddenly, he was standing only a few feet in front of her, golden hair too bright in the darkness floating away from his head and empyrean blue eyes glowing. “What are we to do with you, hmm?”

Virelai could smell the violence on him and she spoke in a hoarse whisper before she even had time to form the thought of the words that followed. “Haketh, Wulrom.” At first, nothing happened, and Vir wondered if they were not close enough for him to feel her calling. Toliel threw his head back to laugh just as the shadows at her side shifted, warping, and from them stepped a man.

Without thinking, she thrust the child into Wulrom's arms before he even had the chance to take in her appearance. “Take him and go.” It would be worse for her in the long run if her promise was broken. There is no time. Her eyes seemed to say. If the beast got the boy to safety and closed the sanctuary he would be able to keep out all the monsters but the creator of that place. A hasty bargain made could buy her some time, but only if the child survived.

The wolf must have understood that, since the hesitation left his body and he nodded before stepping back, allowing the shadows to swallow him again.
Hurry, Wulrom. She could feel their eyes searching through the trees, heads turning in the direction of fleeing prey. A few shifting bodies broke away from the group and vanished into the woods, into the shadows, in pursuit.

Toliel stayed, however, uninterested in meager prey when her current state was so much more interesting. Those haughty eyes looked down at her, laughingly, set in his expressionless face. “You plan to sacrifice your life for that child?” A smile twitched at the corner of his mouth and he raised an eyebrow questioningly. “Do you not think that is a bit extreme? Not to mention a bit too humane of you.”

The male Fae was not wrong to say this. Indeed, initially, she had taken the boy to eat – a child's vitality having some amazing healing benefits – and yet she was choosing to protect him. Why? Even if she knew the answer herself, she would not tell him.


October 10, 2020 11:11 pm

Virelai Tylwyth


Virelai listened for the sounds of screaming, fighting, dying in the distance, but heard none. Her head fell back against the trunk of the tree behind her and she shrugged her shoulders as nonchalantly as she could. And though the movement made her wince painfully, she managed to control her expression. “I am already as good as dead. You know it as well as I.” Her eyes closed and she relaxed, exhaling raggedly.

“This is true.” The man laughed and she could hear the tittering of other voices drifting through the trees. “But at least if he had taken you with him, you would have had a place to anchor yourself to. How long do you suspect it will take him to find you again once you are pulled from this rotting carcass?”

“Why are you so-” Vir coughed, sputtered, licked the blood from her lips and teeth before continuing. “So certain I am going to give you the pleasure of watching me die?” Her arm was draped uselessly across her lap, fingers twitching, muscles spasming. And her eyes had become glazed over, glassy golden pools of chipped ice. “Even death would wait for me, just to spite you. He and I are old friends, after all.”


When the man stepped forward her entire body flinched involuntarily and his lips stretched into a cruel smile. “Seems like I won't have to wait overmuch. You did not manage to keep this one alive very long, did you?” He sauntered closer and crouched in front of her, tugging painfully on a piece of blood matted hair. “We have already seen what has happened, Vaewen. The death of that cursed clan is on your shoulders.” Toliel leaned closer and his breath against her cheek sent unpleasant shivers down her spine, like an awful premonition. “So the Old Ones have decided that you must be punished. And rewarded.”

He stood, pulling her forward with her by the front of her dress and throwing her down onto the forest floor. A booted foot pinned her by the shoulder and she cried out – the sound chasing the rustling in the trees that grew louder the nearer to them those watchers drew. Vir laughed and the sound seized in her broken vocal cords as the wicked closed in. It was fine that in the dark, with her face pressed in the mud, they could not see her red-rimmed eyes. Nor the way their reflective surface was empty of light.


Whatever punishment they have come up with will be a blessing compared to their idea of a reward.

She was tired – of running, of living and dying again and again, of fighting against the chains that bound her. She was worn down, ragged and she kept wondering why she was still trying to play in this mortal world. What was it that drew her so hungrily to walk among them, to satiate this boundless curiosity?

“What is the point?” Toliel seemed to read her mind, to echo her thoughts and reflect back at her all of the contradictions she embodied. If there was no need for any of this then why did she do it? Virelai thought she had always done what was in her best interest. At the very least, she had believed that was true. She did whatever she had to in order to live and Vir never would have thought that she was acting unreasonably in doing so.

Virelai's eyes snapped open – when had she closed them? – when the snickering, snarling, body circled closer, closed in around her all glowing eyes and smacking lips. The pressure was removed from her shoulder and a dozen hands flipped her onto her back and latched onto her limbs like shackles. Vir's body arched off the ground, thrashed against the restraints until she couldn't breathe, until hands forced her head back to stare into brilliantly violent blue eyes.

He was kneeling in the crushed autumn leaves above her head, face irritatingly close but not – with her held as she was – close enough to bite. “Do not worry. This is a blessing you are being given, to at last ease your restless spirit.” Toliel's smile was dazzling, blinding in its malice and he whispered as his fingers traced along her cheeks. “Rejoice, Princess. For today is the day your curse will, at last, be lifted and you will be forced to roam, no more.” He stroked along her eyelids and her chin jerked, teeth snapping at his fingers.

But she was unable to catch them and the ringing slap that made her head spin stunned her long enough to hold still and listen. What is he saying? She blinked the pain from her eyes, thinking if she could only see straight the ringing in her ear would stop. “-is your reward.” The blueblood was saying. “A body truly all your own again. As for your punishment...” He was pulling the lid back on her right eye, forcing her to open it and look up at him. “There it is. That look in your eyes has always gotten you into trouble, has it not? So, truly, this could be considered another favor.”

For a moment, Virelai couldn't fathom what was happening. There was a sudden and agonizing pressure placed upon her right eye and she couldn't see. Couldn't look. And then she was screaming, screaming because his fingers were digging into her socket, into her skull. And her eye was squishing against those digits and Vir thrashed, jerked her head back, felt something disconnect that shouldn't have been and she writhed. And wailed soundlessly stop! Stop! st- but she could not do anything even when he reached and pried open her other eye, repeating the process of ripping the gelatinous orb out as tears filled the empty holes left behind.

The light of the moon, the accursed glow of that yellow hair, the gleam of violent blue eyes, the leaves, the night, the shadows. It was all gone. The wretched sound of her pitiful sobbing was smothered by the laughter of the half a dozen creatures surrounding her. And she felt his body shuffle forward, breath a whisper passing across her forehead, tangling in her hair.


“There now, shush. That was not so bad, hmm? And now for your reward, we will ensure that this is your last body and kindly end your torment. You will have the opportunity to live out whatever life you desire.” His giggling voice, specifically the words he was speaking, swallowed the screams and the sobs from Vir's mouth. Silencing her. “Or at least, whatever life you can manage before this body becomes your tomb. Now,” Fingertips brushed her forehead and she flinched. “Shall we begin?”

And then there was only darkness and a vague sense of dreaming.


October 11, 2020 11:11 am

Virelai Tylwyth


It's cold. It's so cold and dark. And I can't see.”

Vir was drawn through the ever-dark by the sound of a small voice sobbing. A far away and softly keening voice, which rippled through the aether. Virelai had no eyes and so she should not have been able to see the small, pale-haired child curled within the hollow trunk of an ancient tree. She could hear the heavy pouring rain, could maybe even feel it splashing against her face. Or maybe that was the tears or the blood or something less pure.

Growling thunder rolled, circled the tree, shaking the limbs and the roots and the little girl trying to find shelter inside of it. The child covered her ears as the water lapped into her tiny island at the edge of the flooded river.
Can you not swim? Vir wondered as she floated closer, as the icy water rose to swallow the tiny toes dug in the muddy earth. The river whipped around the tree, trying desperately to pull it up by the roots and carry the girl away.

Are you afraid? Virelai tried to call out to the child and when that small head jerked in her direction, for a moment, she believed she had succeeded.


Is someone there? Woorom? Is that you?!” That trembling voice stumbled over the words, lips trembling blue, as the girl leapt up. Clutching the vines biting into the bark of the tree, she took a step forward. No, wait! “Please! Please help me! I'm scared. And it's dark. It's so dark and cold...” Vir was struck with a strange sense of familiarity just as the child stepped out of the hollow of the tree- and an awful sound of wood snapping and crashing water came surging down the river.

Virelai glanced over her shoulder and saw the deluge of water rushing towards them. The dam! Her body twisted, reaching for the child to shove her back into the tree. But it was already too late, and even if she had been able to reach the girl in time, there was no way Vir would have been able to hold onto her. To stop what came next. I remember this. She thought, hastily, as the rapids swept in and dragged that small, helpless body downstream.

The water passed through Virelai's body but she was carried along with the child anyway, down into those pitch black, ravenous waters. She could see that tiny, twisting form growing distant, the fluttering white cloth it was wrapped in becoming hazy at the edges. The woman tried to dart forward through the swirling sea.
She'll die! Vir cried out or tried to, but the icy river rushed in, filling her throat, choking off any sound she tried to make.


What do you mean?” A voice echoed in the stream and a blinding light burst stars in Virelai's eyes as she threw her arms up.

What-


The nebulous light faded as if it were torn out of the very spectrum of sight, leaving behind a ghostly pale and fragile body. “What do you mean?” She questioned again, looking perplexed. “I didn't die.” Her thin arm lifted to point at Vir. “I'm right there, or can't you see me?” A cant of her head sent unruly white hair twisting to the side and Virelai glanced behind herself. “Or I guess I am here, speaking now.”

If you are not dead then how are you speaking to me now?” Vir lifted her hand, pressing it to her temple as she closed her eyes, trying to remember why her head was aching.

How would I know? You're the one who came looking for me, remember?”


Virelai shook her head and dropped her hand away, looking up at the girl and then glancing around the empty, black space. “I do not have time for this.”

The child laughed. “You're so silly. You have all the time in the world. You always have just nearly enough time. That's why you always survive. And why you always fail.” Vir dragged her fingers down the side of her face, reaching to rub her eyes as the irritation grew. When suddenly a pale hand snapped up and tightened around her wrist. “Don't touch. You can't leave yet.”

There was the strangest sensation just then, twisting uneasily inside of her, as though she had done all of this before. In this exact order. Time and time again. “Yes.” The little girl said, pulling Vir's arm down gently. “We did what they wanted us to. We made it sleep for a long, long time. Again and again. But now you have to wake it up. You have to take it with you this time when you return.”


“Stop!” Virelai jerked her arm out of the child's grip and took a step back. “What kind of treacherous illusion is this?” Sharp nails dug into her own wrist, the Fae trying to wake herself up while the girl watched on with a pitying expression. Her head turned, twisted to search the darkness for the thread that would lead her back out of this dream.

It isn't an illusion or a dream. Everything in that reality always leads to this moment. And every time you choose to switch places, putting the nightmare back to sleep.” That small figure stepped forward again and Virelai saw it this time or thought she did. The shimmering steps of something not quite real, like the way moonlight sits weighty in the hand without being solid, wrapped around that child. “But this time, we can't do that.” The girl spoke emphatically. “You heard what he said. If you get fused to that body you might live a while but when you die that's it. Your last chance at life will be spent in misery if you're not lucky enough to die quickly. Is that what you want?”

“No-” Vir answered without thinking and frowned, puzzled at the fact that the answer that came to her immediately was, No.

Good.” Two unnaturally strong fists curled in Virelai's gown and dragged her down until she was eye level with that young creature who, at that moment, did not seem so young after all. “You have to escape, okay? No matter what. I've never been on this road before, so I don't know what's going to happen next. But you have to take it and get away. Figure out how to wake it up.”


Cold little hands gripped the sides of Vir's head and dry lips pressed briefly to her forehead. Then the girl's mouth parted, and from it came something unnatural. White wisps and twisting legs and writhing vines as the crawled from that child's throat and Virelai inhaled them all, breathing in, swallowing them. It was painful, a parasite filling her chest and crawling around beneath her skin.

Vir gasped, trying to tear herself from the child's grasp even as she felt the press of small thumbs sinking into her eyes. Felt but could not see
Because. They are gone. She thought. And the throbbing pain she had felt before was nothing, nothing, in comparison to the way that girl dug her way around inside of those sockets. The agony of it was a white-hot pain, streaking through her brain and setting fire to every pain receptor in her body, bringing her to her knees.

And she remembered her body, her living body, was somewhere out there, vulnerable and held captive by a monster. The little girl stopped digging, as though she had found what she'd been looking for, she gazed once more into Virelai's nonexistent eyes and whispered softly – the sound echoing violently around them – a single word.

Run.”


October 12, 2020 11:11 pm

Virelai Tylwyth


You cannot begin to fathom the agony you have pressed into my skin. But even if I die in the depths of this torment, know that I will rise again – a blackhole vengeance – to take from you all that you hold dear.



There were no stars in the sky, no sky to hold them, no earth upon which they could shine. There was only nothingness and the rising voices ringing in the ears, and the thrashing of a body missing its soul. “Damn it! Hold her still. If she dies before the seal is completed all of this will have been for nothing.”

Virelai tried to open her eyes, but again remembered that there was nothing behind those fluttering lashes any longer. That only the vast emptiness remained as hers and hers alone. It took a moment before she felt the shaking of her own limbs, the way they twisted in those gripping hands, as she snarled and threw the weight of her body against them. “I said-”

Vir convulsed, arching up from the ground like she was trying to fly away when suddenly she went boneless. The body collapsed, falling back onto the earth, paralyzed. “Shit! Did she die?” Toliel's voice wavered between amusement, disgust, and annoyance.


“She may be going into shock. She has lost a significant amount of blood.” Virelai did not recognize the second speaker, but that was not surprising. Why would she know the names of the Prince's Jesters?

“Fuck.” The male above her hissed as a hand grabbed her face roughly and turned her sightless gaze in the direction of its owner. “This is the problem with mingling among filthy humans, is it not, Vaewen? Perhaps if you did not act like one of them you would not be so weak.” He released her and slapped his hand with stinging briefness against her cheek. “Wake up, harlot.”

How vulgar.” These words were not spoken aloud, nor did they slip thoughtlessly from her own mind. Rather, they rose from some hollow that had been carved out of her before she had been born. Somewhere there, behind a cold stone door, it echoed so gently.


There was a ripple. A subtle shift – beneath her skin? within the earth? through the air? – that brought with it the stillness and silence of death. And yet, it did not feel like an ending. It was not like the shadow of her monstrous family whipping her into submission nor was it the sensation of being torn apart and devoured. It did not hold that same quality of resignation as the death she was familiar with.

This was wretchedness and rot, effervescent darkness and the beauty brought to life from nightmares dreamt but never spoken about. It was the quiet of impending doom and the promise of complete annihilation, a power that blossomed like blood upon fresh white snow. So sharp and shattered that it had a nearly soft quality. And that was its greatest deception.


Run.”

She felt it then, crawling around inside of her, searching for the stone holding that hollow closed. An indescribable and unnatural shift of muscle and bone being pushed aside.

“What...” There was an involuntary flinch from the hands holding her at the same time he whispered overhead.

Run.”


Something began to press against the inside of her sternum then, stretching the flesh, pushing upwards. She felt the way it slid through her muscles and peeled back her skin from the inside out, felt each nuance of it without any of the pain. And so she could not be sure what was really happening. However, the hands released her, all at once, and she heard those creatures scrambling in the decaying leaves – their startled gasps and swallowed cries filling the air with the sweet sound of fear.

“Stop, you cowards! We have to finish the seal! Hold he-”

As fast as you can.”


It was a tremor. It was a thunderclap. It was a sonic boom tearing through the atmosphere, ripping the trees out by their roots to sent them leaning and throwing bodies away like discarded scraps of paper. It was a ripple. A wave crashing through the silent wood as some unspeakable thing – a power that left behind a sickly sensation – burst from within her.

If I catch you here, now.”

“What is that?!” It was a woman's scream, piercing and harsh. “Stop!” She shrieked. “Let go! Let-”

“Toliel! What is happening?!” There was a wet, rending sound, an unpleasant gurgling.

“I..” She could hear his whisper so clearly in the dark, could feel the tremors in his hands against her head.

“Get away! Don't come near me!” Their frantic cries soaked the night.


The breath Virelai hadn't realized she had been holding came rushing back into her lungs. And she rose up, threw herself to the side, coughing and gasping for air through her broken windpipe. There was a movement beneath her, writhing. Perhaps it was the feel of her organs sliding out of the tears in her skin, but she could not perceive the agony that should accompany it.

Vir sensed a hand reaching out and her head lifted, bleeding eyes leaking down to her smirking lips as the words – those echos mixing with the silence – swept through the trees in her own broken voice.


“Run. Run. As fast as you can.” Her clawed fingers reached towards him, brushed icily against his fingertips in the same instant she felt him pull back. Virelai's smile widened, twisted into something containing nightmarish beauty, and she paused. She could taste the rich wine of his fear on her tongue and licked her lips. Not once, in all her endless years, had this man ever felt an ounce of fear for her.

“If I catch you here now.” She whispered, savoring the flavor if panic rising. “You'll be a dead man.”


Vir lunged forward. And it would be impossible to describe the satisfaction she felt when he collapsed back. When she heard him clambering away from her in stunned silence as her body lifted with ease and sent her hurtling towards him. He ran, through the trees, and perhaps he looked back once to see what had become of that desecrated body. And then he picked up speed, slipping through the shadows and back to the Sidhe.

Alone where once there were many.


October 14, 2020 11:11 pm

Virelai Tylwyth


Virelai swayed on her feet and turned, stumbling in what she hoped was the direction of home. Feeling was beginning to return to her body and with it came the anguish resonating through her. As understanding dawned upon her, the state she found herself in ensured that every movement became a small and poignant torture. She knew, as she used her hands to guide her unsteady steps through the woods, that she would not make it.

And yet, she still pushed forward – fingertips brushing the bark of trees and holding onto those trunks to support her failing body – stumbling among the evergreens. So long as she pressed forward she could move, falling into the next solid surface she touched and resting for a breath before repeating the process again and again. Each time the stretch between movement and stillness grew longer. The darkness became more solid. The pain more real.

Vir knew she was wasting away.

A part of her was unbothered by this. The seal, whatever it was Toliel had been trying to accomplish, had failed – at least as far as Virelai was aware. But they would not have run if they had succeeded, instead, they would have killed her outright. And so Vir found some small comfort in the fact that even if she damaged the body beyond repair, it would not become her eternal tomb. However, she would be lost again for who knew how long.

The next time her hands reached out there was nothing to grab hold of and her collapsing steps took her to her knees. Or would have, were it not for the two hands that slipped beneath her arms and hauled her up against a solid body. She caught the scent of carrion and caramel and unconsciously buried her face against the expanse of that chest and inhaled the familiar fragrance. “Wulrom. Wha-t...” are you d- “oing here?”


“Surely, you know.” The wolf dragged Vir forward, wrapping her arm over his shoulder so that he could support her as they walked. “I have no intention of spending another century searching for your scattered pieces. So move your damn feet!” The man snapped at her when her legs refused to cooperate. It felt as though she was walking on pins and needles or something soft and pillowy stuffed between herself and the ground. Every step left her feeling unbalanced.

“Th-oy.” Virelai's voice cracked, words slurring drunkenly across her tongue.

“That little nuisance is fine, for all the good it will do you. Safe and sound just like you wanted him to be.” Trying to move while she fumbled along in this way must have become too annoying for Wulrom because he stooped and hooked his arms beneath her knees and back, hoisting her up against his chest. He set off at a brisk pace as he continued to inform her of his opinion, though it sounded an awful lot like he was scolding her. Some things never changed and that thought alone brought a bubble of bloody laughter bursting from Vir's lips.

“Honestly!” His exasperation was an almost welcome distraction. “What possessed you to bring that thing back with you in the state you are in?”

“Nee-d'd 'm.” The sound of his voice felt faded and speaking was beginning to hurt as the feeling returned steadily inwards. Every breath was a soft wheezing sound that escaped the gaping hole in her throat.

“What you needed was to come back immediately and alone! We were perfectly capable of managing the aftermath. You would have been fine if you had just-”


Was it not you who sent me into the den of wolves in the first place, Wulrom? His arms vibrated with an unnamed emotion that he kept stamped beneath his indignation. If she had thought kindly of him, Vir might have believed it to be guilt he was feeling. Guilt from letting that bastard Toliel into her territory to begin with. If she had not been taken to deal with Marconius and his brood, none of this would have happened.

But then Myrneen would be dead. She thought to herself. Her fingers twitched, twisted around an unseen lock of golden hair. Though she could not see, the memory of him crashing to the ground was fresh and uncomfortably vivid. It woke something cold and coiling inside of her, sent it slithering up her spine until she was thrown into another violent fit of tremors.

Wulrom tightened his grip around her and broke out into a limping run, jostling her. It was only then she noticed the smell of his blood, which must have been why the scent of him was so strong. He had not told her he was injured and strangely, Vir felt she should say something. However, before she could do so, he broke the silence again.

“I am getting quite tired of carrying around your corpse, Vaewen.”

I am not d “ead ye-t.” Virelai mumbled into his jacket as her head lulled, cheek pressing against the cold, finely woven material. Her voice was fading, farther and farther away, being swallowed down into darkness. She didn't wish to speak anymore, to think. Had death ever left her feeling so sluggish? Vir couldn't recall a time that it had, but perhaps she had always died quickly instead of this slow and useless resistance that brought with it only suffering.

Resistance?

- up, Vaewen!”

Vir jerked awake and wondered when she had fallen asleep. And for how long. And why am I resisting?

How many times had Virelai resigned herself to death? How often had she wept and raged against it? She could not recall, couldn't count on one hand the times she had resisted. Perhaps the real question was, when had she stopped fighting it and simply accepted death as inevitable? There was a roaring in her ears, ocean waves crashing against familiar white-sand shores. And Virelai tasted the salt of the icy sea flooding her throat, filling her mouth with unspoken words. They were choking the life out of her and Vir's hands reached out, searching for a waystone in the emptiness.


-elai, wake up!” Her fingers curled in and scrunched Wulrom's jacket, clutching like it was a lifeline, the only thing keeping her from losing her way back to reality. “We're almost there. Don't fall asleep.” Wulrom... “Come on, just a little further!”

C-” an't. “T-” ired. She was hemorrhaging blood each time her lips parted to speak.

You can, you stubborn bitch!” His fingers were digging into her skin, layering new bruises atop those already beginning to blossom. “No one is more suited to fighting death.” It was a shift in the way that the air hit her that told Vir they had come to the clearing. “There! I told you, didn't I?” With renewed speed, Wulrom's gait ate the ground between the edge of the woods and the small cabin house.


There was a sudden sense of weightlessness as he leaped the gate, not bothering with the time it would take to open it properly. The tension in Virelai's body began to unwind the moment they crossed the fence but the wolf shook her again. “Not yet.” He raced towards the side of the small building where the cellardoor was located. “Wait! Not yet! Vir-”

Virelai could hear him yelling, even as the silence sank in, – dragging her down with it – she could feel the reverberations in his chest rattling against her ribcage. She tried, she really did. But she was just. So. Tired. And the last of her resistance slipped away.


Sorry... Sorry, Wulrom. I...


October 15, 2020 11:11 pm

Virelai Tylwyth


“Virelai!” Wulrom dropped the woman's legs to the ground, dragging her the last few feet to the cellar's entrance. “Wake up!” Hand free, he tore the door from its hinges, letting it crash beside the underground staircase in a heap of splintered wood. He did not bother with the stars, choosing instead to snatch her up again and leap to the bottom of the dark, cold space. The sound of his feet hitting the stone floor echoed in the eerie quiet of the room and the moment her own battered soles touched the ground, candles flickered to life in brass holders set into the walls.

“We are here! Look!” Of course, he was aware – distantly in his mind – that even if she were conscious she wouldn't be able to see anything.

Three leaping steps forward from the bottom of the stairs and he dropped to his knees in the center of the round room, bringing her down with him. The wolf managed to keep her from knocking too hard against the stone when they landed and he fell back. Sitting roughly on the ground he gathered her gently into the cage of his arms and legs and then shook her almost violently.

“Wake up, you foolish woman!” His growling arrogance had diminished into something softer but no less harsh as his fingers threaded through her blood matted hair. He shifted her head to get a better look at her face, the pallor of her skin gray even in the warm candle glow. They had made it in time, he was certain they had. Or rather, that was the only outcome he would accept. “I am too old to go searching the world for your missing pieces.”

Sorry... Sorry, Wulrom. I...”

Somewhere, in a place far from the cold stone cellar, there was a celebration. A taste of victory flavored with words of love, where here there was only acrimony and agony. And the steady thrum beating within the stone floors, within the walls, growing heavier. This sound was not the drum of war; the battle was already over. Nor was it the sort that called for sacrifice; one had already been made.

Wulrom lifted the ragdoll body and pressed his ear against her chest. Even with preternatural hearing, the beat of her heart was so faint he had to strain in order to perceive it. The rhythm was slow and growing softer. But it was there. With each stuttering palpitation, the silence between beats grew longer and the thrumming in the small cavern increased in speed and became steadily deeper.

“Get up!” It would only take a few minutes at most for her to tap into that power and begin the healing process. She had created this place as a new anchor after the loss of her borrowed body after she had once again been dragged back to the place she most detested. When she reclaimed her original body, Vir had sworn she would never again return to that cage. And so she had uprooted whatever it was that had kept her bound to that place, forced to return again and again.

Unfortunately, that meant a new one was required and though she had the power to create it, there was a catch. In order to anchor her soul when the body collapsed, she had to be on the property before it began. If he hadn't been watching her closely early in the year, if he had not gotten her here immediately after her death, she would already be lost to the four corners of the earth and beyond them.

But she was not dead yet, not here, not now. She did not have to forget again, to rebuild. Not if she fought for just a few moments more to cocoon herself safely in that power. “Fuck! Why must you always choose the most inconvenient path?!” His body hunched over her ragged form and he cursed her, cursed her to the ends of the earth and back. They had made it but what good was that when she couldn't even keep herself from dying.


-u-r-m... His body jerked back as her voice staggering through his mind. -et off m-, st-id mutt... Y-'re -eavy... He nearly dropped her onto the floor when he felt her shift in his arms, half expecting it to be a hallucination he was experiencing. But half hoping it wasn't. And so is when he lifted his face and discovered that it was an illusion – a lie fabricated by his mind to drown out the quiet of her heart ceasing to beat – his blood ran cold. The vitality left her body in a rush, taking with it the thrumming of the walls, and left his ears ringing as she fell from his arms.

The movement he felt hadn't been caused by her waking or from the throes of her final moments. It was the tectonic shift of porcelain cracking, of glass eroding into sand, of a body crumbling in his hands. Into fistfuls of primordial clay and scattered stardust and broken dreams. It was what happens after life's ending.


No, no, no, no, no!” Frantic hands tried to scoop her up, to put her back together. A useless and involuntary action.

There was a frightened gasp from the doorway and Wulrom's face twitched in the direction of that sound, silver soaked eyes settling on the boy at the foot of the stairs. “Get out!” He growled, his jaw snapping as the skin stretched around the bone, as the teeth elongated and the maw stretched into something monstrous.

The child didn't move, only stared – paralyzed and framed in the moonlight falling through the opening – from the edge of the stone circle. The wolf did not wait to see the boy retreat, instead, turning back towards the woman who was quickly being reduced to dust. And the ground began shaking, not softly, but in a way that would make you think the room was going to collapse. It was so violent that her face, gray and still shaped like chiseled stone, caved in. Only then did Wulrom see the boy standing within the boundary.


Get back!” The beast leaped and froze, warring between the remains on the floor and the child.

The boy...”


She had asked him about that creature even as she was dying and he had assured her that it was safe. There was a swirling breeze filling the cavern, whipping through the center of the room, pushing outwards, whisking that ash across the stone. And the thrumming returned, the sound so deep and echoing, so all-consuming, that it made Wulrom nauseous. Made the boy retch at the foot of the stairs.

And he knew that that power was searching for a container, seeking out the last bodily connections Virelai had. Himself. And the boy.


After the collapse comes the big bang.”

The act of creation. Wulrom was across the room and hauling the boy up before he even finished the thought. In the next ten seconds, he was up the stairs, throwing them both out of the cellar, beyond the barrier that remained despite the broken door. And the energy – building, twisting, growing – with nowhere to go.

Exploded.

Filling the forest with the blinding gold light of a bursting star.

And Virelai was no more.


October 16, 2020 11:11 pm

Virelai Tylwyth


To die: to sleep;

No more; and by a sleep to say we end

The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks

That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil




This was familiar.

The way the body broke down piece by piece and scattered through the room. The mutating energy, consuming what was left before being leashed to the layline that ran beneath this space – displaced from time – on the other side of the veil. It bound the spirit to the earthly realm, tied her down to this sanctuary where she would, once cocooned in that web of power, reform anew.

At least, that was how it was meant to be.

But this was different.

Wrong somehow.


You're quite resilient.”

This was familiar too, that whispering voice sliding up her spine, soft and cool. She knew it, because she had heard it before because it bore some resemblance to a dream she had dreamt somewhere far from here. And yet, it did not belong. It was not a voice she should have known, nor one she ought to be hearing here and now. Though she could not remember why.

Virelai turned her head – or would have if there had been one to turn – and twisted in the darkness, searching for direction. Vir wasn't sure which way was up and which was down. It was disorienting, dizzying in the black abyss that was cold and filled with something that brushed along the illusion of her skin, mortal feeling still clinging to her.

However, “up” was whatever direction one perceived it to be, and so after a moment, she stopped her wildly shifting movements and instead closed her eyes. Only when those eyes were closed could she see them. Wulrom frantically scooping up her ashy remains, his skin coated in the dust of her ruined body. The way he ran across the room, snatched up the boy, threw them out of the cellar.

The thrumming force vibrating through the stone scattered her further, turning her into atoms and molecules and particles of stardust, sweeping them up into the current of power building. That unsteady sensation returned as she was caught by that whirlpool of energy and dragged into the center of the room where she would be consumed and born anew.

And it was this, this moment right here, in which things became unfamiliar.

Rather than being swallowed down into the quiet, ever-dark. That energy – undulating and unstable – exploded outwards and Virelai, or some part of her that had avoided being tied down, was thrown from the epicenter. She jerked her arms up to cover her eyes and had the strangest sense of deja vu just before she realized that her transparent skin wasn't going to be of much use in blocking that blinding light. At the same time, she was cast up and out of the cellar to where Wulrom and the boy lay on the ground, immobile.


This way.”

Virelai's eyes snapped open, though natural instinct would have been to keep them closed, and she found herself surrounded by the void once more. Before she even had a moment to catch her breath, to get her bearings again, Vir was being pulled. Dragged through the darkness and the cold mist, down a vibrant, colorful chord. The aurora of connection.

All of this took seconds to transpire and suddenly Virelai was forced to come face to face with the raving monster and his corpse bride. In the quiet of the church, in the silence of anticipation, the moment before death, a ragged whisper rose from a brutalized mouth. “I love you, Damian.”

A sound escaped Virelai – a soft sigh? a bitter exhalation of laughter? a broken sob mixing mourning and exasperation? – as her lips parted as though she might speak. But she said nothing. Could say nothing.


It seems he did not pray hard enough.” Virelai turned her face away only to feel an icy touch drag her gaze back as their mouths met in desperation. “You wished to see, didn't you? To watch as he paid the price for his betrayal.” The blade slipped in, dead blood oozing as it pierced the skin. Again and again and again all while Vir watched, unable to turn away. When he released her, when the blade came up to the blond bird's neck, Virelai squeezed her eyes closed.

But she could still see, even then, every ligament and strip of skin as it was severed.

Vir was far from the type to be squeamish over something like this and she, herself, had decapitated her fair share of heads. Maybe in more gruesome ways than this. She had even lost her own a time or two in eras when it was a popular method of execution. So, normally she would look on with apathy or perhaps even a sickening sense of curiosity and interest.

However, there was something about this...


Come. It is over now. With no tether, she will not be able to remain here long.”

But...

When did you grow a conscience? He made his choice. He'll have to correct his own mistakes.” The imagery of the cathedral's carnage was torn away, leaving them alone the vast emptiness of the void before that presence spoke again. “If you begin to worry about such small things now, the journey ahead is going to be exceedingly difficult for you.”

Confusion furrowed Vir's brow as she listened to the voice of something she could not see. The shadows pressed in, constricting around her. She was beginning to feel claustrophobic, trapped by this transient dark's constantly changing pressure. The force sometimes bruising, other instances a gentle caress. She didn't understand what was happening. Couldn't comprehend-

You can. You've already made your decision, so do not lie to yourself. You have chosen to live. Or have you changed your mind?”

Virelai shook her head without any hesitation. If she had let herself remain where she had been, surely she would have met a permanent end. There was a soft caress of hands against her face, sweeping through her hair, in a way that felt gentle and caring in a way that was truly bizarre. She wanted to shift away and at the same time lean into that cold touch.

You should know. If you do this, whatever you become will bear the burden of my truth as well as your own. But if you do not, you will never be able to leave this place again.” Vir nodded her head once, slowly. Even if she wished to object, the choice was clear – do what was asked of her or rot away here for eternity. There wasn't a choice at all.

The hands against her cheeks became a noose around her neck and she twisted wildly. Wait! The sound of her mind pierced through the veil, a single, sharp cry that was silenced abruptly.

Come now, cursed child. Sleep. Let us resurrect you properly.”

Vir could no longer tell if it was the press of the void or those hands that crushed against her flailing soul. Only that it was a crippling sensation that eventually faded away. Faded into nothing.

Remember, this is but a dream.”


October 20, 2020 11:11 pm

Virelai Tylwyth


Time became an empty and irrelevant thing.

The weight of the ever-dark and the crushing grip of those hands became water and reeds, pulling Virelai's sleeping soul down. Below the surface of the void, beneath the ice of dreaming, beyond the reach of anything that was not native to this land. She could not feel the biting cold that bloomed snow crystals on her would be skin. Nor could she hear the sound of mourning that wailed through this softly dangerous place.

But she could see.

There was a small light emanating, pulsing softly in growing waves that rippled the water around her. Instinct demanded she escape, to get away from that glow, but that persistent tugging demanded she follow. And there was nowhere else to go but here. Nowhere left for her but the liquid dark and whatever was kept within that sphere of warm and terrifying light.

This was not the blinding brightness she experienced earlier. Earlier? When was that? And why? Rather it was an alluring radiance, one that beckoned her closer, working in tandem with the insistence of those ghostly hands. That presence took her wrist as she drifted down – no, as she was dragged – and when she reached the orb it seemed intent on pressing her fingertips against it.

But Virelai hesitated. The flux of her spiritual body sent the currents stirring as she tried to pull back, to kick her legs, and get away. There was something not right about this, some important detail she was forgetting. Despite not being able to remember, she was most certain she did not want to touch that ominous sphere. And yet...


No! Vir fought, struggled against that vice-like grip. In her thrashing, Vir's lips parted on silent sobs as she clawed and tore at this thing's hold on her. Bubbles gushed from her mouth, kicked up in a flurry by her frantic legs swishing through the blackwater. Water that was quickly becoming harder to move in, turning into mud, into tar, sticking heavily to her skin. To quicksand, holding her hostage to the will of that unnamed presence. Something slithered against her restrained legs, brushed her waist, swimming in the darkness.

Please! I do not want-

You must endure this in order to live.”

At those words, her palm was pressed flat against that small star and for the first time she felt the cold wrapped around her soul, depleting what little warmth was there. The moment her transparent hand pressed against that light, it was like someone had forced her to touch the surface of the sun. Only this sun had no rays but blades, thin as needles, that pierced through her in an outpouring of rage and death and destruction slicing into her very soul.

If it had only been the stabbing sensation, perhaps Virelai could have endured it, resisted even. But the pain of a sword sliding through flesh was nothing compared to this. The spikes tore away pieces of her, devoured her own small light, searing from the inside out her captive mind and forsaken soul. She did not flicker, like a flame, but chipped – shards of glass splintering to sand, to golden dust to be drawn into that nebulous ball.

Surely, surely she was screaming as she shattered, becoming something less and greater than atoms and molecules. The building blocks of a microscopic, cosmic universe.


Don't be afraid. This pain is only temporary.”

And Vir was swallowed down into a nightmare, one she would have to carry with her always.



They opened the door. It was not a door that should have been opened, let alone existed. And the door was not a door. Once it was a feather. And another a piece of gold. A hollow tree. A scroll. A broken sword. A book. And then a crown.

And once it was a body.

They opened the door for greed. For curiosity. To satiate a hunger. To exact a revenge. To win a war. Or the heart of a lover.

Mortal desire knows no bounds, heeds no warnings for selfish impulses. It eats. It feeds. It takes until there is nothing left to be gained and even then it will find but one thing more.

And once the door was open there was no closing it again. Not until the desire was met and conquered, until the task was completed. And sometimes, even then, the door remained open. And that creature born from something wicked whispering through the void would find other ways to entertain itself.

Massacre a favorite. Mayhem a close second. Where it roamed, chaos and death followed close behind, swept famine and plague through whatever land was unlucky enough to be at its mercy.

Once, the creature met a one who was not a mortal son, but a creature of another kind. Good people he was, creature of light by appearance. And monstrous in spirit. He was not so straightforward as to wish for power. He did not wish to devour or destroy. No, his wish was one of cunning and deception. For the power he craved was not some small portion.

He wanted it all.

And yet he expressed none of this to the creature. Only gave it free rein, to do as it pleased. To wreak havoc however it wished so long as it left his kin and kith alone.

One long summer day, the creature asked him. “Why do you wish for nothing? Why let me roam free? Do you know my pain? Are you aware of my suffering?” This old being was not a trusting thing. Suspicion was born into its very essence. But still, for just a moment, curiosity and half-hopeful belief touched upon it.

Even very old things can have hope.

Or so the creature thought.


October 28, 2020 11:11 pm

Virelai Tylwyth


Virelai was torn away from the scene, unable to hear the answer the man gave. Perhaps, at this moment, she was the dream. The dust floating through these memories, an audience for this play of tragedy and betrayal. She was swept away, these particles with no particular consciousness but an awareness that ran deep. A connection to the depths of this swirling, violent light as she dissolved within it, bearing witness to the flashes one after another, rapid-fire chipping away at what was left of her like a parasite feeding.

This was the seed.”



The man offered a bargain.

Mortal greed dictated that men wished to be kings, emperors, untouchable sovereign overall they dare to believe they are entitled to. As far as their eyes were reaching and even beyond that, they wished to conquer, to own.

But this man did not wish to be a king.


Divide your divinity and give half to me.” He told the creature. “And in exchange, I will give you an immortal vessel to hold the other half. One which will give you the one thing you truly desire. The thing you have been missing.”

And what do I desire?” The creature questioned, curiously, its formless body – white-light vines invisible to the eyes – rustling the autumn leaves.


The man smiled a secret smile, a serpentine twist of the lips hidden as he turned away briefly. If the creature had seen it they would have known he was a snake. But it did not see. “Feeling. Do you not wish to experience your slaughter rather than simply watching over it?”

No.
A whimper rose within Virelai, or echoed around her, or she became that sound pitched into the dream and rippling away.

You see it, don't you?” The voice raked through her, scattering again her many fragmented, disintegrating pieces.

I do not want to!

That is not possible. I have no such thing to give you.”

You do. Or rather, you are.” They spoke often in those long, bright days with the setting sun that the creature could not feel. Or beside a fire in winter with smoke, it could not smell. But this was the first time the being really thought about what it wanted and what it did not have.

Your very existence is divine to the creatures of this world.” The man continued. “If you share half of your power with me and take a vessel, we would have the ability to walk among them as living gods. And if you wish you would not have to see me again. You will be free from their call and instead, they will be the ones forced to obey.”

Ah, at last. You ask for power as all the others.” It would not be a lie to say that the creature wondered if this was what disappointment felt like. When had it begun to have expectations that this being would be different from the others? And what's more, why had that even started to matter to it? Differences. All earthly beings were the same at their core.

No. I do not want to take from you and use your power until you are forced to return. I am offering you a bargain, an exchange. So that you, too, will be given something.”


There had never been an occasion where the creature received anything beyond what was required to open the door. It never had any thought of 'after' and neither did those that summoned it. This being would later realize that that moment, that first taste of what it meant to want something, would bring about its demise...



"It is time. You will not remember right away. But do try not to forget me completely."



“How long is she going to sleep?” An unfamiliar voice echoed around her softly, filling the cavern of her mind with a muffled, muzzy sensation. She frowned, trying to turn away from the sound disturbing the blissful silence she was cocooned within. The weightlessness of it, deprivation of the senses, deadened. She enjoyed it well enough, that feeling of nothing, and had no desire to wake.

“As long as it takes.” The second speaker was one she thought she recognized, the annoyed tone touching lightly on some distant memory. The thick cotton haze began to clear, increasing the strain on her mind, tearing away her delightful shroud of numb.

“But this is the longest you've waited, right?” At the same time, she felt a weight begin pressing her down, crushing against her – bringing fear, sharp and fresh, to the forefront. She remembered this feeling of being dragged down, down into the nightmare. But she did not wish to go.

“This is not an exact process, pup.” Snappish tones increased the strength of that terror. No, perhaps it only made Virelai more aware of it. Made it more real.

“I'm not a child anymore, Wulrom.” This first said sternly, in the way one might think sounded authoritative, a child mirroring an adult.


But the second man only laughed harshly, the sound grating along Virelai's skin. Skin? That too was a familiar sensation, something about the way it touched upon her mind producing a shivery unease. And the fear was growing, building upon her brick by brick until she was suffocating under stones.

“Even among your own kind you are still a babe. To me, you are no better than an infant.” Not stones, but an oppressive presence clinging to her skeletal frame, wrapping her in chains. More binding than mere mortar and clay.

What is this?

“It's been seven years!” Virelai shook the chains, rattling them, and somewhere in the waking world, pale fingers twitched.

Stop.

“Silence! Do not speak in that tone here or I will rip out your throat myself. You foolish, short-lived mortals are nothing but impatient with your need for instantaneous gratification and your selfish disregard for-”

Stop this.

Did you hear that?” A tremor passed through her body and with it came first, the unmistakable recognition of pain and second, the sensation of a heart being weighed against a feather. And it was too heavy, centering all of the stones upon her chest, squeezing the air from her lungs.

Lungs... Lungs!

“Vaewen...?” It was such a soft sound to penetrate through the staggering palpitations on her heart ringing like swords clashing inside her head. Even so. She heard him. Every fiber of her being wailed, trying to escape that being and the sound of that voice.

“Breathe!”


Something slammed against her chest and her body jerked upright, eyes flashing open, mouth wide caught on a voiceless cry. Bright light blinded those moss green eyes dripping tears. It didn't matter whether it was from the light itself or the sense of suffocation followed by the relief of being able to breathe or the misery that came from that breathing, waking from the living dream. All that mattered was that she could see, she could see, and all she wanted was to...

Stop!”

And for a moment everyone, everything, did.


October 30, 2020 11:11 pm

Virelai Tylwyth


There was no time for her eyes to adjust to what she was seeing before that blinding light filled the entire field of her vision. Static noise replaced the voices and was followed by silence as the brightness dimmed, grew softer, drawing her back into the comfortable darkness. Virelai lifted her ghostly hands and looked at them, lips parting on a heavy sigh.

Back again it seems.” She muttered to herself, looking around the watery dark. “Do you know how many times I've returned to this place?” There was no answer from the void, but she could see the shadows of trees stretching their branches in what was assumed to be skyward around her. “The tether between the soul and the body must still be very weak.” Vir began walking, following the small strand of stardust back the way she had come, back the way it had unraveled from through the trees.

Vir was distantly aware, as she moved, of her body falling back, twisting violently before it arched up, bent unnaturally against muscle strain. The pain was so poignant she felt it even here, detached as she was. She wouldn't remember, never does once she leaves again, but the body knows this isn't the first time this has happened. Though it may be the first time that there are witnesses.

“-ld her legs! She has to bite-”

Virelai moved steadily towards those voices as the trees deepened, growing taller, plunging her into the depths of their black bark and lush gray leaves. The distance between them closed more rapidly than it had on her previous attempts, until at last – though this time it seemed that only a few moments had passed – she stood at the gold glass mirror that separated her soul from the room where her body lay. She pushed her hands against the cool surface and it stretched, membranous, and forced her way out of the void.

Perhaps this time it won't kick me out.”



“There, now. You're fine. Just breathe.”

The man had pulled her up, leaning her body forward, head between her knees as she fought to inhale past her closed throat. She was biting down on a strap of some sort, the tang of leather filling her mouth. There was a heavy hand on her back, keeping her pressed down and the voices above her were muffled by her hair, and the fabric tangled around her legs. Maybe that is why she couldn't recognize who they belonged to despite the familiarity of the one nearest her.

“Did she have a seizure? Should I go get Orla?” Both this voice and the name were unfamiliar to Virelai. Her shoulders twitched beneath the weight of the hand on her back, a sign that she wanted to sit up, but the firm press remained.

“Not yet.” The man seemed to respond to her movement first before directing his attention back to the other presence. “It is something like it I suppose.”

“You don't know? Hasn't this happened every time?”


Virelai also wanted to know if this had happened every time and more importantly why she would not already know that. It felt like something she ought to understand. The words themselves were comprehensible and yet it felt like someone had painted large swaths of black over a canvas, blotting out pieces of the painting. It made sense, but vaguely, in the way one might recall the memory of seeing an image but being unable to remember it with clarity. She wanted to see it clearly.

However, the man above her remained silent.

Vir forced her upper body out of its bent position, disregarding the hand, and took in the room at a glance. She was greeted with more incomplete paintings and memories, some hidden behind thing layers and others obscured completely. At least, until she saw the creature at her side. When she met those steel eyes it was like looking at a shredded canvas. Covered in blood. And weeping.

With a startled gasp, Virelai scrambled back, falling onto the floor with a thud. “V-” Before he could speak further her hands came up, waving him off while hiding her face behind pale arms.


Don't! Stay back!” It didn't sound right when she tried to form the words. Only jagged, rough sounds came out, incomplete thoughts spilling in a stutter of consonants. A violent frustration passed through her and she pounded her fists on the floor, snarling. But her limbs jarred against the hard surface and instead of a snarl, a near soundless whimper left her lips instead.

The second pair of footsteps started to move around the bed and Vir's body twisted, trying to pull her legs – still tangled in fabric – beneath her. “Tobias.” Both the movement of feet and Virelai's struggling came to a halt, everyone in the room freezing as though faced with a wild animal. “I am going to fetch Orla. I need you to stay with her while I do. But do not approach her unless necessary.”

“But I can-”

No. It is better if I do it. She won't deem you as a threat as long as you don't do anything rash.” Virelai lifted her gaze to find that the man in a dark suit was holding his hand up to stop the other creature. He had not once looked away from her while speaking to the boy – she could see him now over the bed, dark hair disheveled, youthful face no more than fifteen – who was stealing glances between them.

“Wulrom-”


The suited man, Wulrom, lowered his arm in a cutting motion. “Enough. This isn't helping anyone. I will be back shortly.” He backed away from her until he was around the bed before turning his back and moving towards the door. “Also,” The creature glanced back at the boy and raised an eyebrow. “Mind your tongue, pup.” Before the young man had time to protest, Wulrom slipped through the door and was gone.

When their attention was off of her, Virelai untangled the sheets from her legs and kicked them away, crouching just far enough from the edge of the bed that she could see over it and move quickly around or across it if need be. There was a pounding in her head, thrumming inside of her temples in an unsteady rhythm. As she was trying to recall something, anything that would give her insight as to what was happening, she heard the boy clear his throat from the other side of the bed.


“He, um, said it would be like this. That you'd be a bit disoriented when you woke up.” The voice she heard wasn't calm, nor frightened, but filled with a mix of expectation and relief. She met his gaze, her body shaking uncontrollably. “You can't remember much, right? He told me it would only be temporary.” Tobias, that is what the one called Wulrom addressed the boy as, let the silence fill the room until it must have been uncomfortable because he said, “Can I help you up? That must not be very comfortable.”

Trembling legs gave out and she dropped onto the floor as numbness crept up the appendages. Her head snapped up, glare settling on the boy who only looked on in an almost apologetic looking way. Virelai didn't sense any malicious intent from his demeanor, if anything he seemed curious. And maybe as uncertain of her as she was of him. But that alone was enough to convince Vir that he wouldn't do her any immediate harm.

With a jerky nod of her head, Tobias came around to her side and helped pull her to her feet just as the bedroom door swung open and a plump, grandmotherly looking woman stood in the doorway. “Lady...” A woman who addressed her with a tearful voice, who approached her with caution. A woman Virelai did not know, who she was certain that she had never known. And she wasn't sure she was comfortable with this stranger speaking to her so familiarly.

She narrowed her gaze and lifted her chin, the surface of her moss green eyes shining.


Who are you?”


November 05, 2020 11:11 pm

Virelai Tylwyth


Though Vir couldn't speak the words, both the boy and Wulrom – who had come into the room behind the elderly woman – flinched, picking up on that projected tone. So it shouldn't have been any sort of surprise when Wulrom answered in the woman's stead. But for a moment, Virelai was surprised that anyone had been able to answer a question she couldn't ask in the first place.

“This is Orla. We brought her to help. She's knowledgeable in medicines for both mortals and otherworldly beings.”

A wave of dizziness swept through her and she swayed on her feet slightly, flashes of memory flickering at the edge of her mind. Playing tricks with her eyes. For a moment the light seemed to shift and she could see two shimmering lines fluctuating like an aurora between herself and two of the three creatures within the room. And there was another that seemed to be connected to something or someone else outside this place.

“We haven't met.” The words rushed from the woman's mouth faster than Virelai thought someone ought to be able to speak, drawing the Fae's attention away from the threads. “I was one of your mother's midwives and her nurse after you were born. I c.me to s.. .ou. I'.e wa...ed a lon. .ime .. me.t .ou .. tell y.. s.m...ing.” The words distorted as they came out of the woman's lopsided mouth. In fact, the whole room seemed to be tilting on its axis.

And the floodgates opened.



The slap echoed. Even though in her cage there was no reason for echoing, it rang through the trees, scattered the nesting birds. “What do you mean you don't know what you've done?!” Virelai looked up at the boy, the young man, with dandelion hair and cruel empyrean eyes. A small child's hand pressed to her and she could feel her skin red and throbbing painfully beneath her fingertips.

Do not treat it so roughly. If you damage it too much when it is small who knows if it'll hold up to the test of time.” The man beside the child opposite her spoke, resting a hand on the boy's shoulder. He had those same blue eyes, cold and emotionless, but his hair was dark like the bark of the blackwood trees.

You let her die for this?” The boy looked up at his father with the righteous indignation afforded to a pampered prince. When he turned back to her, however, he was just a terribly upset child. “It's your fault my mother is dead, you fucking abomination!”




Virelai tore herself from the memory or was torn from it. She managed to catch herself as she was toppling over, clamping a hand over her mouth as the bile rose up her throat as Tobias – who still stood beside her – put a steadying hand on her shoulder. Only it wasn't bile. When she coughed blood filled the palm of her hand, hot and dark, dripping from her lips down her chin, splashing the front of her clothes and onto the floor.

Hey!” Tobias hooked a hand beneath her arm, holding her up-

Vaewen-” Wulrom took a step closer-

Oh-!” At the same time, Orla fluttered her hands and moved, quite quickly, around the side of the bed. Everyone spoke at once, the sounds crashing against Virelai's ears, making her wince. And the moment she glared up at them everyone stopped, holding their breath. Her expression was scathing and yet somehow soft. Eyes round and shining like they were wet with tears. Sorrowful. Or empty.

What mother?” The thought cracked like a whip through the room, fueled enough by anger that even the elderly woman could hear if her wide-eyed reaction was any indication. Or perhaps she was reacting to Vir's blood-soaked visage. She must have been a sight to behold. “I was born to some poor woman sacrificed for the creation of something monstrous. Mother?” She wanted to laugh but all she managed was a bloody smile. “I know of no such creature.”


That wasn't expressly true. Somewhere within her memory, kept at a distance and still locked away, there was one. A memory of a single moment in which she had been given some vague understanding of the being called mother. But she had no recollection of that now and even if she did it likely wouldn't have mattered.

The wave of and dizziness passed, but it seemed intent on taking her consciousness with it. Her knees buckled and all the feeling left her body. She didn't feel the impact of her knees on the wood floor because she was caught before she slammed down. But she couldn't feel the arms holding her up. Through blurry vision she could see mouths moving frantically, people closing in on her like vultures or crows or reapers coming to steal the last of her sense.

But she could not hear them.

Virelai could feel unconsciousness wrapping around her, black spots flickering in front of her eyes. And she bit down on her lip until she was sure she was bleeding, though she couldn't tell since all she could taste already was blood. The starbursts threatening to steal her sight faded slightly, clearing more with each rapid flutter of her long lashes.

She twitched her shoulders and jerked free of the grasp, stumbling forward to grip one of the bedposts while waving her other hand like it had some power to keep them away from her. Panting, she drew in her shaking breaths and exhaled, one after another until the room was hazy and washed in white light rather than darkness.

And a sudden burst of what felt like electricity sparked down her spine and something very,
very interesting drew her mind's eye.


November 08, 2020 11:11 pm
1
Actives (11) Fresh Blood (1) View All
(this month)
The Fallen (1) Graveyard
Drago Fyre, Hollen, Mallory Quarters, MenagerieSteals3, TFsDontTouchy, TFprizezombie, MenagerieSteals2, OdDSteals2, Burgers, MenagerieSteals1, OdDSteals1  Malcom Tarsian  Val Dawnbreaker  
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