The apple was laying before her, crimson and juicy. Even she could smell the scent of it, tempting to take a bite.

When the fairies brought her a dress, Mina couldn’t believe it. It was like taken from the scariest dream she ever had, a touch of madness, a lick of carnivorous tongue.

Now, she was sitting in the vast chamber that looked partially like royal apartments… and partially like ruins, eaten by the hungry vines and branches. An ancient temple bitten by the hand of time, but still managing to keep its past glory. Bathing in it’s glamorous decay, so well concealed that it could be seen only by the corner of an eye.

She already learned to not look at the stained glass windows.

Her dress though was making her nauseous. It was glittering gray, beautiful in cut… but was filled with tiny eyes, alive eyes. She was almost sure that if she touched any of the eyes, it would hurt it. And feel the glossy surface under her fingers. So she kept her hands far from them, feeling like a morbid doll put into a shop exhibition.

But most ominous was her host.

Lord Lorian, clad in black robes, with black raven hair which seemed to move like underwater, and with eyes like deep black wells, which were making her sink into them as soon as she looked. Something pulsed around him, some repressed power, which was making her chest fill with heavy stones.

And he just sipped wine, his pose carefree and aloof; but he was looking at her intensely, like waiting for her to speak, to judge if she even fits this dinner. He seemed to test her patience, completely not in hurry. He had all time in the world.

The apple was just laying there. But she didn’t taste it.

The silence prolonged, until Mina didn’t cut it, her voice ringing with echo in the room.

“Why… Why am I here? Why you…”

“Kidnapped you” Lorian smiled, his grin adding dark charm to his already perfect face. “Of course, let’s name things as they are. I am well aware of how you appeared here.”

Mina swallowed hard.

“Why?” she caught her hands too close to the dress and she swiftly, with panic, put them on the table.

“You don’t like your dress, child?” Lorian still looked at her with the intensity of a collapsing star.

“No” Mina’s heart reached her throat. “It’s alive.”

“All things are alive” Lorian chuckled, a sound so pleasant to the mortal ears. “One needs to know how to pull that life from them, order them to live… openly. Order them to live even against their will.”

“Why am I here… please?” she added, because she felt she should. He seemed not completely sane. Like all things in this place.

He clicked with his tongue, and shook his head, not losing his perfect smile.

“Eat” he only said. “These apples are delicious. You probably never tasted such sweet flesh.”

Mina’s heart raced, raced fast. She didn’t like how he seemed to tease her, like she was a good joke, and all knew why he was amused, all but her.

She took the apple in her hands. It was bigger than she imagined apples. Hard and ruddy, with golden sunlit blushes.

And then, a memory surged. An old custom, a nursery rhyme, something she never liked but now it was pushing itself through her mind, screaming to be let out.

Something about food in fairy land… something…

don’t eat berries in fairy home

or you’ll always be alone

don’t taste apples in house of fey

they are filled with decay

don’t drink wine in fairy land

or you lose your soul and life

And ominous old song, which was making her have nightmares when she was younger, and Alina liked to sing it, when she thought her children don’t hear.

“No, I don’t like apples” she eventually said. Pushing the plate far from herself.

Lorian sipped the wine again. It was something so graceful in the way he did it, and natural. Her gaze landed again, involuntarily, on his eyes.

How deep they are?

What hides in them?

Do not look.

Do not.

She saw that he already stood from the chair and approached her, with catlike agility, slowly, calculating. And like in soft cat’s walk, there was also a concealed danger to him.

Mina for the first time felt a pang of real, unadulterated fear, something consuming her from inside. It was caused by the darkness that started to creep from behind him, like hands and tentacles and talons  and teeth made of shadow, begging him – she knew that, she really knew – to allow them to tear her to pieces.

Lorian approached her with a glee, a dangerous smile, like he was well aware of her fear and was tasting every drop of it.

He took the apple and put it just before her face.

“Eat” his voice silent, but deep and commanding.

She would take the apple, urged by his tone, if not…

don’t taste apples in house of fey

they are filled with decay

She shook her head, in desperate denial. No. She won’t eat it. It was a trick. They wanted to curse her even more. They can’t take her soul. They can’t.

“I won’t” she pressed her teeth. “Tiyan will come for me. I know he will. He will come and won’t allow you to feed me with apples, or berries, or wine.”

Lorian laughed, it was really an honest, completely natural, amused laughter. Clear like a mountain breeze, like wind from the pine woods. For a moment, Mina thought that she saw sharp teeth, something creeping behind his face, darkness darker than this place, worse than all fae realm compressed in one. He leaned over her, she threw back, to not inhale the intense scent of jasmine and violets, which already started to numb her again.

“I have high hopes that your brother will arrive. After all, that is your purpose here.”

Mina swallowed a huge bile. So that’s why they kidnapped her? They wanted Tiyan. Not her, but Tiyan. But… why? Why him? And why they couldn’t capture him like they did with her?

She felt an eye under her fingers and chill went through her spine.

“You will do everything I order you, after all” said Lorian, almost joyfully and his tone as sweet as the sweetest fruits. “In time… you will eat everything.”

Red, thick juice trickling between his fingers, in places where sharp black talons pierced the apple flesh, spilling on the floor.

Like crimson rain.

Pure blood.

5 Replies to “Interlude VI – Dal’coler”

  1. Lorian is pure power. Scary as always. =cO
    I was going to ask why he insisted so much on her eating the apple. But I remembered that you had written something about it. So it’s a spell to keep her from leaving fairyland?

    1. Yes! He is aware that Tiyan with his power coming from the god himself, could free himself one way or another. But he won’t go without his sister. Lorian knows that.

      He needs him too much to let him just take Mina and go.

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