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ATOM: A Cruel Taste of Desire – IV

Nymre entered the vast Hall of Preparation. The forest priests arrived from Natsel’sort two days ago. The New Lunar Year was approaching, sweeping dust off the old one with its hems and wings.

Lunar New Year… Lorian always loved this celebration as a young fae. She knew that, because they met exactly then, she returned to Dal’coler after a long absence and was hungry for sensations… and the king of the fey showed her much of them and even more. She remembered how carefree they were. How passion was still young.

Lunar New Year, with its freedom, with its joy, with its darkness. Lorian still liked this day, but celebrated it in a much different way. She as well, her vain nature bathing in the luxury and ominous gloom of Dal’coler. She wanted him to steal her like he was doing with women in the past and love her in some forbidden place. He was doing it so many times during celebrations, not caring at all at royal protocol.

She wondered what he plans for now. What he plans for her.

The woods’ priests… hidden behind the thick black veils, they were unrecognizable, dark creatures of the darkest place in Ain’asel. They felt the special bond with the Sacred Woods and tales told that they talked with the trees, the oldest ones, equal to gods. That’s how Lorian knew that he doesn’t need a heir. The dark forest fed on his darkness, on his conquest, like a sanguisuge. It was Lorian’s most enchanted lover.

But even if they wanted him to have heirs… he wouldn’t have them with her. She was sterile, infertile, a price she was paying for being one of the most powerful women in the realm. Usually, she thought it was comfortable. But sometimes… The thought of Lorian taking another woman to place a child in her womb, was making her angry. Not because she would have other woman – he had human women in the past. But because his heir would not be hers.

She would kill that woman, as always she was doing.

But… something in this was wrong.

Something in this was… sad.

Sex is one thing. Bond is another.

One of the forest priests started walking in her direction and she brushed another bad thought that started to worm inside her head, slithering over her mind.

“Lady Nymre” a sussuring voice reached her from behind a intricately sewn veil. “I felt you. Before you came. Your aura flickers, pained, hungry. Swelling with anxiety.”

Her eyes widened. Big, too big to be real. Beautiful, with misplaced beauty only fey possessed.


She had the world under her feet. Powerful lover. Magic that could destroy a human city and actually did in the past. Beauty and mystery.


An anger started to boil inside her, but only partially directed at the priest.

When the world falls down, beauty dies with it.

“We all have our banes” her voice was harsher than she planned, she shouldn’t talk with this tone to a woods priest. But honestly… Now she didn’t care.

When the world falls down… power becomes irrelevant.

“Of course” Nymre could hear the hidden joy in his voice, a dark eagerness to sip more of her well hidden pain. “We can see through emotions like you can see through the iron. You want to know what I found in yours?”

“No” Nymre felt the situation doesn’t favor her. But something, at the same time, dragged her into this.. maybe, only maybe this creature can uncover things before her, which she still tried to understand. “Yes.”

The priest, this time, openly laughed. The sound was sharp, like a talon drawn through the glass.

“Lady Nymre was always bold, as tales tell. She captured our king into a dripping net of desire. Dangerous Lady Nymre. Drinking blood from his hands.”

A slight shiver came down his spine. The priests of the woods had a reputation among High Fae, and it was not a good one. Even if they needed them to appease the forest, and explain its wishes.

“Good, brave Lady Nymre” his voice silenced more, still sharp and thin as a dagger’s blade. “You are sad, so sad, that you can’t give an heir to your lord. You think though that he will never want one… that he loves his power much more than any son or daughter. But… we see the future. And I see an heir to Lorian Ain’Dal. Young, agile boy, filled with energy.”

Nymre didn’t react. Her eyes drilling into his veil, like trying to burn it and dig into his face.

“Ah, truth. Cruel, cruel truth. And I see a lot of death, dangerous Lady Nymre. Not long from now. A lot of delicious, cruel, vicious deaths.”

Nymre… just stood.

“Maybe more trees will grow in our woods. More fae souls replenishing emerald among our groves. Green within blue and blue within the bark. Fae-borne trees are strongest and most vital. Which tree would you like to give your aura to, when your time comes?”

He had to toy with her. Had to. Death. And Lorian’s child. Not hers. Will she also grow a tree? Will she die, so so soon?

Her heart beating fast. Foolish heart, stupid. Emotions as visible as rain on the leaves, soul so open, tempting this foul Changeling to pour venom into it.

She felt as a taloned hand closed over her arm. Her gaze landed on the face, hidden behind the material. Thick, with laced texture. So thick, that one could not see anything behind it. But… she could swear that she saw the eyes, red, maddened, suffering… yes, suffering.

And even if she saw them only for an insignificant glimpse… She knew the pain that they held.

Red or black.

Deep and bottomless or flaming.

They were almost the same.

She saw the same pain in Lorian’s eyes. The same hunger, hurtful hunger, which she never has seen before. Only now. Only since the last few years, intensifying inside his eyes, a painful well of horrors.

They knew. They surely knew why he was not the same anymore. Knew why he withdrew from her. Hiding secrets. Secrets of his inner struggles.

“Take the hands off me” she hissed. Her aura intensified too, sticky and light, but powerful… enough to swipe the city off the face of the land. The priest laughed again, harshly, deeply amused… but took his hand away.

And bowed before her, with a deepest bow, only abided by Changelings.

To the dead.

He bowed before her like before their god, the forest… or a dead person, who’s aura returned to the trees and fertilized them.

Was it a gesture of utter respect… or… ?

A lot of delicious, cruel, vicious deaths.

Was it a joke? A cruel game?

Or… he saw her in this vision, a vision given to him by the woods.

Of her dying.

He seemed to bathe in her worry. She should never lower her guard down like this. She should…

Her heart beat in a wild rhythm, when she observed as Changeling priest returns to his people and they start preparing for the first celebrational prayer in Dal’coler, carried every day, until the New Lunar Year starts.

Their voices, sharp as iron blades, which could harm all the fae. Aside from Lorian, her and few others, the Ancient Ones, long living, gathering power for ages.

But… Why did she feel that this blade cut her skin already and released poison?

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