The raw mountain sight of Shadowlands engraved in his mind like his own reflection. The days passed, similar, covered with falling snow and sharp ridges.

Qhal didn’t talk with him about what happened, but Tiyan sensed something had changed. His gaze became even more curious, and… darker. Like something he suspected all the time proved to be true. When Tiyan poured the blood liquid into his throat, for a few tense, awful minutes, he thought he poisoned him. Killed him. But then, his pale – too pale – complexion started to gain natural colors and his eyes slowly opened. Tiyan didn’t know what Qhal saw in his own mind… but it left a mark on the usually collected fairy.

He told him Shadowland’s massive is his home. Maybe they showed him something he wanted to be left in the past.

When he asked about the blue blood… Qhal just smiled – an annoying, all-knowing grin. Dark, in its alien way. Everything in him in that moment seemed alien and distant.

But something changed in Qhal. Maybe horror he went through due to mirages… maybe gratefulness for saving him from them. Tiyan realized that fae don’t like to say “thank you.” Or only Qhal doesn’t like to.

But he felt like Qhal changed opinion on him.

No pet.

Maybe… young child trying to act like an adult.

But not a toy or an animal.

He also understood one surprising thing – against his fear and doubt. The power the Shadow wanted him for – he wanted to dive into it more, before Qhal and him reached the fairy palace. To learn if he can use it to defend himself… and save Mina. Because he was aware that they won’t free her, he will have to fight for her. Until now, he thought he wouldn’t manage, forcing his soul through the hopeless crevice in the dark painting created of shadows and night. He wanted to see Mina again, and try to save her… but he was scared, so scared that he won’t be able and they’ll both die trying.

But now… he felt strength, while he walked through the melting snow, safe from nightmares, among flames that could harm all living beings… but not him. The fire slowly burned in him, all this time, until he allowed it to touch his heart… and started to eat his fear out. Swallowing it thought after thought, doubt after doubt.

He still felt fear. And doubt.

But now he really had hope. That he had a chance.

He hoped it wasn’t a cruel game the fey liked so much. And that Mina is still alive.

Qhal led them through the cruel massive, days became one with nights, differing only by lack of walking and warmth of the green canopy. Days, which beamed with fresh and pallid snow, carried during hungry nights – colder and cruel. And nights – taken from a dream of a warm fireplace, opposing the bloodthirsty face of Ain’asel. Mirages, again. Maybe he shouldn’t attach to them.

Attaching to anything that was elusive and out of reach.

“You must be prepared when we reach Dorh-arsol” one day he heard the silent voice of Qhal, now not muted by the blows, which calmed down, a quiet but freezing wind; it made Tiyan feel safe enough to drown in his own thoughts.

Qhal turned to him to see his face and it had to be not wise, because he smiled, with his usual, calm way. Kinder than any fairy he has ever seen so far.

“Perhaps my advice comes too late. We are in Shadowlands. This land has a special connection with our gods.”

Perhaps. For Tiyan, who was tired and everything started to slowly blur in his head – cruelty of the fae and amiable behavior of Qhal – the mention of gods didn’t cause any effect. Maybe they are worse than fae, maybe not.

“They are dead” Qhal seemed to again read in his mind; Tiyan hoped he didn’t. Or simply it was that obvious. “But left a gate, which can be used by humans.”

A gate.

Just like the one through which he passed the border between Ain’sel and Avras. Which took part of his soul, maimed it and returned, almost the same, but somehow… not fitting anymore.

Tiyan shook his head. If he again had to go through the portal, he would need more than being prepared.

“How many will we have to pass?”

“Only two” Qhal grinned again, and again in a very knowing way. “They may cause a painful body reaction. My king equipped me for that, so we reached Dal’coler sooner. Maybe, after I use my means,  it will be even… pleasant for someone like you” wild sparks in his eyes, amused ones.

Ah, kind king. So thoughtful. Who knew he will be slowly disintegrating and putting together again. And thought so much of his pain and pleasure.

Dark shadows, under his clothes. A touch of night between his legs.

Something that was both alluring and unwanted, something forceful… but not completely.

He hung on the name; not wanting to dwell into these thoughts. Not now, at least.

“Dal’coler…”

“The palace which grows in the Nihelia mountains, our capital. The heart of our land. Beautiful. And tempting. One should never wish to live there.”

Contradictions.

Somehow Tiyan didn’t want to know more.

Qhal pulled the hood off his head, his hair fluttered on the wind, waving like spring ribbons. He possibly wanted to use the slowly emerging sun and lack of wind, to feed himself. He parted the collar of his shirt; his throat already beaming slightly, glittering. His head pulled back, like he lived through an ecstasy, when the sun embraced him with familiar rays.

Tiyan pulled the dry meat he got from Qhal in the morning. A bit wet, but still delicious in comparison to what he was getting in Avras. And he didn’t have to kill any animal to eat it.

The meat tasted different. Maybe it was the wet structure, or more salt, but he devoured it much faster and eager than during previous days. How many of them already? The path through Shadowlands seemed endless; pushing rock on the hill, only to see it rolling down again.

Suddenly, a taste of Ona’s chocolate tingled on his taste buds. A memory. A fond one.

He didn’t think of Ona during the whole road he passed in this cursed realm. He wondered if she reached her destination and if she managed to deal with her demons, which were so raging, that she didn’t even share them with him.

Maybe he meets her again… if they both won’t die… if the flame won’t devour him with its strength… Maybe he will be able to return to Noyd and tell her all that he held close to his heart, but didn’t dare to admit.

Maybe…

So many maybes in his future. And so few real chances.

Do not think of that. You have more chances that in the beginning,

“Tomorrow we will reach the gate” he heard Qhal like through the mist. His voice invigorated, gaining new strength, and a little sprinkles of joy.

Tiyan chewed the meat.

Thinking of chocolate and what he has left behind.

2 Replies to “ATOM: Shadowlands – III”

  1. First, I like Qhal. It’s good that he didn’t die, although deep down I knew, after all he is Tiyan’s guide. ^^
    Second: Another great chapter!😊 Poor Tiyan, he’ll have to go through two more portals. I can’t wait for him to get to the palace. I think the reunion with Mina will be very emotional for both of them. I mean, I don’t know what Lorian plans, but I’m curious.👀

    There are 2 more texts. wow! I didn’t see it before, you had very productive days! I’ll read the next one later. From what I saw it’s about Leira, Lorian and Nymre. ^^🖤

    1. Yes, Qhal is likeable :> Even if he hides a lot too – but I think, like every fae.
      Thank you! Yes, it will be emotional, very. Lorian has plans for both of them 😉

      Haha, truly!~I loved writing last days, such easy word flow :>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *