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ATOM: Flesh and Bone – III

Before him – a vast sky, painted with rays of a faint sun, which fought for survival with the frozen aura of this place. Under him – a void, deep and disappearing in the thick mist, which shouldn’t be present in such cold.

And far away… a cold forest, dark and harsh with its sharp edges.

If Qhal told the truth – and Tiyan knew he did – this was the first passage leading to Dal’coler, the place of wonders and death. Even Qhal seemed to be aware that Dal’coler is dangerous, not only for humans, but for the fae too. The court was a vicious hungry thing, feeding on weakness.

On human hope and blood.

The wind was almost non-existent, like the even more potent cold in Lesser Realm was petrifying it, not allowing it to dance above the land.

Qhal was looking at him all the time, even if he… didn’t look. If the fey had some power that allowed it to have an eye on him, even without turning his eyes… it was well hidden, but Tiyan always felt his gaze on himself. Following him. Guarding him. Spying.

The incident with the portal made him reluctant, an old fear creeping in. Perhaps the fae could fight the gods… but he was not ready. Few days ago, he was indifferent to them, they didn’t seem even half as real as now. The Goddess, the creation itself, always seemed distant to him, even if he believed she watched him for most of his life. He would never imagine that he could meet her, face to face. She was… absent but ever present, she was in nature; leaves, flowers, the water he drank… even in snow, when winter didn’t mean death. But god… a god having a body, who was able to turn his attention on him, who could do as he pleases with him, by mere whim… it was disturbing.

But he knew the fey could do the same, with the same means. For humans, they were gods. It was only a matter of perception.

How he ended between two blades of these sharp scissors?

“We are in a dangerous place. The cold in this region is especially intense.”

Tiyan stopped grinding his thoughts, which were taking him to nowhere. He will mull them over and over again, meeting dead ends.

“Trapped between two mountain ranges” continued the fey. “The magic here is less intense than in Dal’coler. But it affects the weather more than the minds of living beings.”

“So… would I lose another finger?” a bitter, dark joke, but Tiyan couldn’t stop himself.

“No, if you will do what I say” replied Qhal with a small smile wandering on his lips. “After all, my king wants you whole. With as many lost parts as possible.”

Tiyan couldn’t not use the chance of Qhal speaking freely of the king. He wanted to know who awaits him. Wanted to know what he can expect and what fate may possibly he meet. Even if Qhal will again react with animosity, he can’t harm him, even if he presses on him. He had his orders.

“Why don’t you want to talk about him?”

Qhal’s face tensed. As Tiyan expected. But he decided to take risks and push forth.

“He took my sister. He killed my family. And you serve him. I will not bargain. If you need me to go with you, tell me what I can expect. Why? Why don’t you allow me to speak his name?”

Qhal ‘s throat slowly pulsed with light, which his body started to emit. Light… darker than usually. Muted light which would not enlighten the dark night hours.

But Tiyan wanted to at least try. And trying – pull as much information as he can. Going into maw of the beast not knowing practically anything was a reason why his god-induced worries were intensifying through the last days.

“Qhal… I need to know. I will probably die. What do you risk?”

The fey seemed petrified. His brows narrowed in displeasure, but his face stayed cold, like sculpted in marble.

“You won’t die” Qhal’s light became a tone darker. It looked like his throat shone with absence of the sun. “If he needs you, you won’t. But do not expect not to suffer. Lorian is my savior, I owe him my life, but he is not merciful. Not to humans. Not to anyone he doesn’t deem worthy.”


He was Qhal’s savior.

Now, Tiyan slowly started to understand. Qhal admired his king. Cold fear closed its talons over his heart.

“Have you seen her? My sister?” the words barely were leaving his throat. Qhal couldn’t lie. He was walking truth and Tiyan was afraid of what he could hear.

Qhal silently, noiselessly, turned to the sun. Reached with his hand to it. And… smiled. He really smiled.

“I saw her, yes. She was not harmed. And won’t be. Unless… you decided to disobey him.”

He slowly looked at Tiyan, lazily. His features perfect and dangerous, beautiful and stern at the same time. A scultpure of a calm god, who’s indifference can lead him to stepping on small bugs that were humans.

“What do you expect to hear from me, poor soul? That Lorian Ain’Dal kills you as soon as you stop being useful? That your sister suffers terrible pain in the palace and you will come in vain, just to share her fate?” he chuckled. “I can assure you that nothing can prepare you for Dal’coler. But as much as I like you, I am not here to warn you or to save you from what awaits you. I am here to keep you alive. And I will do it, even against your will. Even if you refuse to go with me, I will keep you alive and deliver you to Dal’coler. Even if that meant your hurt feelings… or your pain.”

Tiyan swallowed a thick ball of saliva. He felt like he could expect such an answer. Qhal was dutiful soldier of of the throne and loved Lorian, with whatever grateful love he sprouted in him.

He loved the shadow that forced under his clothes, craving him voraciously.

And Tiyan was afraid of this love. Afraid how it can affect him.

This was pointless. Qhal was a fae and will remain one, no matter how much he liked Tiyan or how much he despised him. He would really harm him, just to fulfill his mission. He saw it in his soft eyes, which always promised rain and in his smile, which held mysteries. He was a fae. Nothing changes that.

The croaking was heard in the distance. Loud and piercing, like intensified by the cold, empty air. Tiyan, angry at himself and at Qhal – at all fae – looked up, to see the flock of black birds, feathers darker than night. Their voices, sharp as stone edges, somehow… reminded him of home… and the dead bodies of his family. Carnivors. When he woke up, he heard bird voices too. Just as sharp. Just as hungry.

Dirt in his mother’s mouth. Tangles of vines going straight through her flesh. Cruel laughter of a fairy messenger, her empty eyes.

One of the ravens parted with the group and flew just in their direction. A small shape on the pale sky became bigger, until it was so close and Tiyan saw that the bird had strange eyes.

Blue, large, perfectly round. Like the eyes of the heavens itself. Like paint that was used to color the sky, and later was poured just into those eyes, to add stellar, unearthly magic to them.

Qhal smiled and stretched his arm, so the raven could sit on it. His throat beaming now with a familiar soft light, like its intensity and shade depended on his mood.

Probably it did.

The raven indeed had huge eyes. Bigger than Qhal’s, strangely intelligent, wells filled with wisdom of many ages. His wings wide and thickly feathered, dark, so dark, glistening with obsidian. And now, the bird was looking at him, intensely, like wanting to see into his head and pull all his thoughts out.

“Dal’coler watches us,” Qhal touched the head of the raven, softly rubbing it. The black bird made a single croak, silent and dry.

“Was it sent… by the king?” tried cautiously Tiyan.

“Yes” chuckled Qhal again. “And by Lady Nymre.”

And that was all. Lady Nymre. Qhal didn’t even try to explain that, the raven looked at Tiyan like it was engraving his features in his mind. It seemed to look like that forever, eons passed, years crumbled, and Tiyan couldn’t stop gazing in those electrifying, round eyes; they grounded him completely.  There was magic in them, not completely cruel. Just… alien, like this whole realm.

When the bird broke the contact, Tiyan felt as he was ravaged by the winter itself. Cold tendrils of sweat slowly stroking his skin. It was unplesant, like a freezing and suffocating water after a warm bath in the sun.

The raven took flight as unexpectedly as it arrived and doing a few circles above Tiyan’s head, croaking loudly, it flew to join the flock in the distance.

Qhal of course would not explain. That would be too easy.


And he was left in ignorance, still knowing as little as before.

Or maybe… knowing even less.

4 Comments on “ATOM: Flesh and Bone – III”

  1. “You won’t die” “But do not expect not to suffer.”

    I don’t know which is worse. I think both. haha

    When the ravens appeared, all I thought about was Nymre. ^^
    Another wonderful chapter, Lorian!! 🖤

  2. It’s a tough situation for Tiyan. There’s really not much he can do at this point if he insists on saving his sister.
    It seems to me that he just witnesses himself being already Lorians pawn without having many choices. I ask myself if he still could do something to escape at this point, but I think he is already past the point of no return.
    I will wait amazed for the things that he will encounter now 🙂

    Very well written, I love your play with words and images! <3

    1. Yes, good observation. Lorian made the net around him which is too tight to move in. He has to go forth and try to not lose spirit (which is very hard for him).

      Thank you a lot!

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