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ATOM: Flesh and Bone – II

The portal closed over him, taking him in a tight and merciless embrace.

Qhal disappeared, Shadowlands; with its snow, dangerous beauty, cruel wind – it seemed to dissolve around him, like winter chill is dissolved by the touch of spring. Like the whole Ain’asel was removed from existence, leaving… not void. It didn’t feel like the last time. It wasn’t all consuming night that was taking him, forcing him, like a restless lover, stealing parts of his soul, replacing the and returning, all in the matter of seconds.

Tiyan felt the warm touch of non-existence sun. His eyes slowly adjusted to the reality the portal threw him in. The bright red sand, the crimson sky, and the distant mountains on the horizon; it all beamed with warmth. Which, following the dreadful cold of Shadowlands, was as shocking, as relieving.

The land was all shades of red; vermilion and mahogany… blood. The sky seemed to pulse above his head, with copper heat. Tiyan felt as the fire in his veins awakes and moves, eager to free itself and merge within this reality.

Why was he here?

Weren’t he supposed to pass the gate and land in somewhere called Lesser Realm? As far as he understood from Qhal’s words, it was another realm under the rule of Dal’coler, as cold and merciless as other fae lands.

This land though… was silent, with the silence of the burning furnace, quiet like a burned forest…

… what if he landed here and won’t be able to free himself? Tossed somewhere by mistake, unable to find the way back…

His insides twisted in fear.

Mina. All he did, he did for her. If the shortcut made him lost, he won’t save her and shadows will consume her soul. Such foolish way to fail – misguided, after all he went through.

He still felt eyes of the burning faeries on him, their nightmares under his skin. And the vision of dying Mina will join this, crueler than teeth and talons.

Qhal… he had to be here, somewhere… or he would search for him. The flames under his heart were burning around the mark on his chest, the lines that scarred his skin lighting up from within.


He couldn’t get lost. In sake of Mina and himself.

He looked into the sky, sunless and empty. Only bright red and vermillion. The ovewhelming colors was everywhere, like mocking him, closing all paths, and chance to find guidance or signs.

“A human.”

Only one word, just in his head, but powerful enough to make him fall on his knees, his fingers burying in the red sand.

“Mortal creature, such a bad choice…”

Tiyan wasn’t ready. The dry meat he ate before landed before him in a unrecognizable pulp. The voice which spoke, forced inside him,; started to eat him alive and take senses from him.

“… but did we have another?”

Tears ran from his eyes… to sink into the sand, releasing smoke.

What was that? Oh goddess…

“But maybe that is the best choice, after all.”

This time, the voice wasn’t as painful. Feminine, delicate, but emotionless and alien, somehow, like Tiyan would imagine a sky or a mountain to speak – distant, empty… but… at the same time curious.



His eyes were still filled with tears, which were slowly evaporating from him, the skin on his face drying, like he was becoming a desert itself. His flames, his mysterious power danced in his veins, happy to hear the voice. Enjoying its closeness.

“Hope is not something that I can embrace, poor soul. But, if I did… I hoped that you would survive.”

His tongue was dry too, but he didn’t have to speak. His thoughts were sucked in by the strange force that was addressing him.

Who are you.

“This is a question even I don’t know the answer for. All I know is that my womb became dry, when I created winter. And I can’t bear flames anymore.”

Tiyan’s mind swirled frantically. Flames. Fire.

“And I am hungry.”

Visions attacked Tiyan’s mind. Chaotic, incoherent, painful. The entity in his head showed him its feelings, its hunger… loss of strength and power. But… also vile intent to destroy everything that walks on Ain’asel and swallow it to feed the flame.

Tiyan felt the meat, what was left of it in his stomach, again traveled to his throat.

“You shouldn’t be here, mortal one. You came too close. Too close. But my hunger is overwhelming. I can’t swallow you though. You are the key to my existence.”

Tiyan heard this hunger in its voice, even if it was emotionless and dry as the sand under his fingers. It didn’t care how many lives it would destroy, satiating itself. It was pure want. Want for souls, blood, crave for flesh.

It was a bottomless mouth wanting food and only food.

And Tiyan felt a repressed desire to eat him too in it. It would swallow him, destroy him, even if it would feed it only for a few minutes.

He didn’t even fear. He felt utter disgust and repulsion. His flames suddenly felt vile for him, because they wanted so much to become one with this warm land and the voice.

“A soul of your… one of a kind… burning… flaming… with the flames that were torn from under my skin..  it would fill me… it would bring me so much… but I can’t… even if I want this so much… the pain of hunger is… unbearable… he EATS us… HE EATS US WHOLE…

Bottomless mouth wanting food.

Someone’s hand grasped over his arm. He heard a voice, much more familiar, much more… alive. And he was pulled. So hard that when he landed with a thump in the freezing snow, he thought that’s shock would destroy him.

The snow slowly was falling on his hair, his hat laying under his feet, he felt a strong urge to throw up again, but he couldn’t, nothing was left anymore.

“Fool” murmured Qhal, his voice slightly off, like he was worried… or scared. “But no. It was only my fault. I should anchor you with me.”

Tiyan’s eyes filled with snow and tears. His body was shaking but not only from the immense cold.

“What… where was I?” his voice shaking, alongside his limbs.

“Shadowlands were once a gate to the underworld. When gods still lived, going through this portal was a death sentence.”

“G-gods?” Tiyan started to form a frightening conclusion.

“They are dead. But the underworld is a trap. It can fill you with the afterglow of the deceased elders and it can madden you… or kill… and I am not sure which of these two would be worse.”

“They are d-dead?” the voice inside his head didn’t seem dead. It knew his name. It knew him, of all. It craved his veins and tendons.

“For a very long time, Tiyan Markon” Qhal started immediately to enchant leaves and vines, the cold here was even worse than in Shadowlands, and even if Qhal could joyfully walk naked in it, Tiyan would die, a frozen bundle of lost hope and failure. “But they still harm our realm.”


Hungry gods.

Fae gods, as filled with need as the fairy folk. An intensified and personified craving.

It didn’t feel as if they were dead. It felt as if they were very alive.

And Tiyan thought immediately that his flames wanted them. They felt good there, in this ellusive realm.

And that meant…

… that it was all bigger than him. Bigger than he imagined. Bigger than he wanted.

And bigger than he was ready for.

2 Comments on “ATOM: Flesh and Bone – II”

  1. I was like Tiyan at first, lost. 😀 Because it seemed like he had taken a wrong turn, although it didn’t seem likely. Then the voice… I thought it was Lorian, but then I realized he was a god. I feel like his meeting with Lorian is the climax of this part of the story. ^^ It will be very interesting to see/read!
    Great chapter! 🖤

    1. Yes, the portal managed to connect Tiyan with the god 😉
      Oh, I can’t wait for their meeting, it will be so… deep :>
      Thank you, Juli!

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