The cinders in his mouth tasted like blood. Thick, old and oily. The scent of burned wood reached him, embraced and almost pulled the vomit out from his mouth. He felt as if something again started crawling under his clothes, hungry and well hidden next to his skin, a promise of pain that hung over him like a heavy cloud.

“Shadow’s pet. Long way from home. Open and ready for our gifts.”

Tiyan tried to trash, but something kept his arms tightly, even if he was doing everything to tense and break it. A spell. Frantic fear ran through him with a cold wave.

Where is Qhal?

This question was drilling his mind, but wasn’t giving an answer. But the widely open eyes, looking at him from every direction were holding knowledge of hours without breath; just flames. He felt them under his skin, just like strange tingling of whetever moved under his clothes, rippling in his trousers and under shirt, wanting to enter him.

He felt the touch on his head again, someone pulled his hair and his neck yanked back, painfully. The eyes which were now looking at him, were old, almost eternal. The cracked skin of the faery was emitting the dim glow of the burning furnace. This fey burned… under ashen and cold skin.

Tiyan again tried to trash, but it was futile. The spells were holding him as strong as vines and roots.

His vision became blurry, the reality thickening; like spider web, dripping off fluid. His eyes so ready to close, he sensed trudging through snow again; the snow of his own mind.

“Shadow’s pet… delicious meat…”

They watched him, attentive eyes, tiny faces, joyful smiles on their lips.

No. Crooked smiles. Dark gleams in their irises. Something slid its way down his leg, something with teeth and he would prefer to just close his eyes and die. Under his clothes, crawling vermin and small creatures, pushing themselves into crevices, biting him with teeth, eating him alive.

“Humans like pets.”

“He should be happy we gave him ours.”

“He should be glad he feeds them.”

“So they aren’t hungry anymore.”

Please kill me, he wanted to mutter into the earth. Their spells kept him pressed over the forest floor. The happy faces, elated faces, everywhere. And the sound of his flesh. He felt it being drilled by hundreds of tiny teeth. But he couldn’t scream. He couldn’t. They took it from him. His voice caught up in his throat.

A laughter, somewhere near his ear. A joyful giggle, innocent like a spring. A cornucopia of colors around him, like spring too. He wanted to disappear in it, give himself to colors. Yellow, blue, and green… but all he could think about was red. Crimson. Rubies splashed over his skin.

A small hand caressed his skin, a face on his peripheral gaze.

“The Shadow likes to take voice from his prey.”

“And ask them to do the impossible.”

“Poor pet, he should stay at home.”

“Serve his lord.”

“Observe how he enjoys.”

“Maybe we give him time.”

“To enjoy.”

“Maybe he breaks the spell.”

“Maybe he fills us with his voice.”

A hopeless moan left his mouth. The teeth reached his tigh and the creature resumed to eat him, slowly. His eyes watered. He tried to reach behind, but his hands were tied with the spell, which squeezed him even tighter, pushing him deeper into the snow.

“We might give him a sweet death.”

“But only if he pleads very nice.”

“Can he plead nicely?”

“So it broke our hearts.”

“And made us love him.”

“More than our pets.”

He choked on his words, unable to form a sentence. He wanted to tear the air with screams. Please allow me. Allow me to scream.

The creatures under his clothes seemed oblivious. There was no fast escape.

Only pain.

A long suffering without the end, a nightmare made of worst fear…

Worst fears.

Nightmares.

Mirages.

They don’t have Mina. I isn’t Mina who the vermins drill with their teeth. And his worst fear is not this.

Like through mist, he saw silhouettes which weren’t tiny ashen fae, nor anything bound to his pained flesh.

A flame.

A rapid flame, which was burning everything around him, leaving him in the center of a fire ring.

The fey are made of fire; they can’t die by burn.

The fire spread and Tiyan suddenly could move. He couldn’t believe he can. The sound of his body being consumed stopped, leaving the place to howling wind. He opened his eyes wider. Snow melted, pouring with streams off the cliff, he almost reached. The gaping hollow emptiness was opening under him, just a few inches off his feet. If he still trashed, he would roll into the gap.

He stood up, recognizing his hands, legs, skin and clothes.

Where is Qhal?

He stepped forth and the flame walked with him, like an ominous crimson storm the goddess brought to save him. But he knew it was his. The flames were his, they were him.

And saved his life.

There was no sign of the faeries. Just an empty and loud world of eternal winter and wind and hollows around him, a real face of Ain’asel, merciless and unforgiving. And he was burning its roots. Unaware of it… but willingly.

The flames still licked the stone, when he saw Qhal. He seemed to not connect, lost in whatever reveire the shadow fairies put him into.

Fuck.

He would laugh bitterly. Qhal was sent to help him and now instead he was helping Qhal, with real worry under his heart. This was a mirage too. Fae are not to be helped. If the Shadow didn’t order him to go after him, he would not even try to guide him. Fae hearts were made of rot and darkness. And he had to save him from this, or he will never reach the palace.

The wind hit him with strength that again almost swept him off the cliff. Like if Ain’asel protested against his fire, wanted to quench it, kill it. Destroy it. And with fire – him.

He crouched next to Qhal. The fey’s eyes were open, yet he wasn’t seeing him. The fire diminished, last sparks dissipating over Qhal’s robe. The spell they put on him had to be stronger, which didn’t surprise him. Qhal was a fae and shadow creatures expected him to show much more resistance.

He looked around, surprised by his cold blooded calm. Like the fire took away his meek courage and reshaped it. Poured strength into his veins.

He saw the backpack Qhal was carrying with himself, tossed aside, tangled in lonely roots protruding off the mountain’s massive.

He tried to not think, not remember. The biting and crawling of vermin and creatures in his flesh hit his senses, hard, and he couldn’t remove them from his mind.

The Shadow likes to take the voice from his victims.

He felt as if the scar under his heart still pulsed with fire – not his fire, not a safe one but with old but still harming coals and stinging pain.

They hated him, with utter passion. And the one who took Mina away too.

His trembling hands started to search for the bottle with the liquid Qhal gave him after he found him. To pack his transparent throat with it and tear him from his mirages.

He felt terribly alone.

Alone, among cruel teeth of the sharp mountains and slowly gathering storm over the Shadowlands.

If Qhal won’t awake fast he will slap him into reality.

Hard.

Without any second thought.

Qhal barely drank. But the drink slowly passed his throat. His eyes were still wide and not connecting, but his mouth uttered a faint sentence. Which made Tiyan shiver.

“Lorian’s… blood… give… his blood…”

Lorian’s blood.

Tiyan didn’t have any idea what he was talking about. Fucking Lorian’s blood. Did he expect him to know what it is? Tiyan started to feel that he should leave the fae alone, lost in the mirages. A good revenge – even if not him, an alien to him, a side he never expected to have – but he knew that he would freeze under this cold moon, if he parted with him.

He started to frantically seek through Qhal’s clothes. If he needs it, it has to be among things he carried… or… in the backpack. He almost fell in the snow, while trying to reach for it again. His hands felt like they again had to freeze. The vines that embraced them were slowly but persistently withering, like Qhal’s dismay was destroying his magic, even one he already cast. He almost tore the backpack with shaking hands – crawling vermin, eating his flesh, going deeper – when a small bottle fell on his hands. Small, transparent one, with blue liquid in it.

He uncorked it, an intense scent of moss reached his nose.

Whatever it was, it was blue. Like fae blood.

Again, his legs carried him under the rock crevice where the fey was sitting, like a dead doll. He poured the liquid into Qhal’s throat. Droplets falling off from his mouth, staining his transparent neck deep blue.

He hoped that he doesn’t make a mistake.

And that he isn’t killing Qhal now.

2 Replies to “ATOM: Shadowlands – II”

  1. The first part was a little agonizing!!😨
    And aww I hope Qhal doesn’t die. 😞 I have hope that he lives, because I think the blue liquid would be Lorian’s blood.

    1. Wasn’t it? 😀 Shadow faeries can only transform nightmares, they are weaker than other fey, no other magic, so they rely… on fear.
      You will see soon, but yes, I don’t plan to kill him 😉

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