Leira passed the dark corridors like a ghost. The hallways seemed to try to suffocate her, the magic working in the palace didn’t work on her like on other humans… Lorian made sure that she served well… but it still was heavy like a slice of a stone. She sometimes wondered how all of this is felt by others… It was long ago since she slept in the fairy ring. And woke up under a completely different sky.

She almost forgot how life looked in her youth. And she didn’t try to imagine how it would look like if she was able to return to her own forsaken world.

She tried to not think too much about others. They were passing away so quickly. In a blink, compared to her life here – long, hard… but with a certain dose of satisfaction. And the beginning of her journey was much more difficult. Her spine became thick and her privileges were numerous. She could end much worse.

Like this poor fool which now was held under the tree.

She knew she should pity him. But no one was foolish enough to escape Lorian’s service. All knew what happened, and with that knowledge, with magic guarding all passages and High and lesser Fae practically amassing in this place – and if one reached that far, hungry, dark forest outside, which was as vile as the Fae –  it was maybe desperation. But so stupid.

If she was about to end her life, she would do it in a much less painful way.

Her thoughts suddenly drifted to the conversation she just had with Lorian. He liked to use mind talk, especially when Lady Nymre was hearing. She had a strict order to never open her mind before his mate. And she partially knew why.

When she brought news, and stood before the oaken door, she almost thought that she would be disturbing. After all, she knew that he may be… busy. But with telepathic connection, with her open mind, and his skills in pulling up thoughts straight from other’s head, they didn’t even have to see each other.

“My lord… the guards captured another escapee. I don’t want to interrupt… tell me if I do.”

“You surely interrupt… but you are aware of that, so that’s a perfect excuse. And another brave fool, they never cease to amaze me, in best possible way” was an amused voice in her mind. She could almost see him as he said that. Entertained by possibilities.

She hesitated a bit, but she knew what to tell.

“It’s his fault, my lord. He will scream by his own choice” she didn’t even feel guilty saying so. It was true.

“Oh, definitely” a laughter, pure and tempting. Sweet, like winter pears and sunburn apples. She almost felt it in her veins. “I like when they scream because of me… by their own choice. Especially by their own choice. Then, it’s more enthralling. “

And maybe he was in a good mood now. Which was more and more frequent lately.

“Do tell me” she almost felt his smile, even if he was sitting in her head. “Do you think that my mate would like to hear the news? And hear the willing screams?”

Perhaps she reached point of no return, trying to accept any side of him. Maybe she was now indeed more a Dal’coler child, than a human. It was a truth that scared her before… but not anymore. Now, she was drawing strength from it.

But she knew Lady Nymre would not like that. After so many years, she grew more and more possessive of him, and Leira both feared that she may become her prey, out of single jealousy. Or she will try to set Lorian against her. The first option was scary… but the second even worse.

If he grows bored with you.

Lord Alman surely sowed a bad seed in her heart. Especially after the pain she felt, back then at night. She doubted it was Lorian, as he didn’t show any signs of anger today. And that brought Lady Nymre in mind.

Nymre’s gaze seemed to follow her with animosity that was almost palpable. She was sure Lorian sees it too, a death in Nymre’s eyes, a promise of violence… but it delights him to be the reason of it.

She wondered if she knew though, that Lorian is a free spirit and can’t be chained. Being under control of a possessive and jealous mate was not in his style. He surely loved Nymre… but was not her prisoner or a hostage. Leira knew how Lorian’s mind works. Sometimes it shocked her, that she thinks that even better than Nymre. Though it was odd thought. Nymre knew him… deeper, longer. Yet, Leira somehow sensed it’s true.

Her steps rang soundly, when she entered the tree chamber. The magic here was even stronger, closer to the core of Dal’coler, closer to its heart.

The stained glass windows seem to absorb the wintry light and bring the worst from it. Even her eyes had to adjust to the spellbound gleam that reigned here.

The tree was reaching the ceiling, high above them. The vast, widely spread boughs and branches were brushing the walls, almost biting through them, in a place where it touched the stone, the dark magic left mold and fungi – the only place in the whole palace, where rot was dominating.

The tree was death. It was the most cherished possession of Lorian.

It grew through everything, sipping the energy, replacing it with its own power. And was his favorite – though definitely not only – way to punish runaway slaves.

The man who tried his luck was tangled with the branches, just on the eye level. It seemed that he was unconscious, and Leira guessed it’s because of the aura of this place. It was a decaying aura, which spread on human lands too.

Leira slowly, with a certain sick fascination approached the entrapped human.

She could try to save him. She could try to kill him. But she knew that was not the option. She knew how to survive. And she climbed too high to lose it.

Nothing indicated that he was wounded. Lorian liked them pure like the night sky, before he got under their skin. Leira again tried to pity the man. But long years, long passages of years, made her immune to this kind of pain. It would cause her to lose her mind, if she stayed as weak and empathic – pathetic –  as she was in the beginning.

There were still things that disturbed her.

But not much anymore.

Only…

If he grows bored with you.

Lord Alman’s carefully chosen words were stinging just under her heart, like a sliver made of fear.

3 Replies to “Interlude VIII – Dal’coler”

  1. Now I understand much better what happened in the previous chapter. And how long has Leira been in this place? I know you said it’s been a long time, the way she talks about her youth, it seems like many, many years ago.
    And this Lord Alman, I wonder if something will happen later on. 🤔 Or with him, or with Leira, if she does something stupid due to the fear he planted in her.

    And…sleeping in a fairy ring? What was she thinking? *face palm* 🤦‍♀️

    1. Yes, she is already more than 30 years in Dal’coler. She didn’t changed age-wise, only inside.
      Oh there will happen something that will make Lord Alman pay hundredfolds 😀
      But Leira will do…many stupid things. Which change her life forever.

      It was disguised, the ring. In my world, they are invisible 😀 Not marked by mushrooms and stuff, they are portals to Ain’asel. Everyone can fall through them.

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