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ATOM: Luna – I

“The gates are open once again.”

“To let the moon in.”

“To swallow the sunlight and replace it with frozen darkness.”

The voices of the forest priests resounded in the vast chamber, filled with fey nobility. Their susurring tones; repressed and dull, more a whisper, were loud enough to fill the hall; loud even if silent. The thick veils on their faces seemed to swallow all light around them. Like they were made of night; and there could be a lot of truth in it. The tales told that they were created from nocturnal silk, woven by creatures that have never seen the sun. Lorian knew the truth though it was much less pleasant and much more interesting.

During New Lunar Year, also his own fate was counted. If the woods decided that he needs an heir, he would have to oblige. Produce the child and allow the future decide if his offspring takes his throne… and life. But he knew that it won’t happen. The ancient forest loved him.

And he was aware such love could bring only one thing.

Eternity.

He felt the mind of Nymre. Her light aura gleaming around her. He suddenly felt a strong urge to grasp at her. Pull her away, even by force. Bury her in truth. But at the same time, he knew he couldn’t. Perhaps the life his lies will give to her, will be enough for her, to forgive him. He wanted her eternity as much as his own.

What have you become. Tormenting those who you love.

But Nymre wouldn’t be herself, if she let her worries be an open book. Even to him. She hid her face under her raven mask, which seemed to swallow also her inner turmoils. She was scared of being weak as much as he despised the mere idea of it.

They were good at wearing masks. A hidden place where no one could reach. While they should truly… scream.

And when she was letting him inside, into her mind, he felt everything that she stored, even if she was sure he sees only the surface.

She would never understand that he has to suffer to live. That he has to pay the prize, for himself and her, to feed his hunger that never ceased to burn his entrails.  His hunger, which she admired when he loved her, but also which scorched him from deep inside.

Which made him – eventually – fight the creatures as old as time.

He wondered if he was ever ready to completely free himself from the overpowering pleasure of gods’ blood. Even if he kills them. Even if he eats them whole, bone by bone, string by string.

“We give our blood to the sacred forest.”

“We offer our flesh to the branches.

“We sacrifice our hearts in the name of the woods.”

The priests pretended to be above this all. They were drinking fear from his court, intoxicated with admiration and fear they were causing. While Lorian knew they were bending under spores the gods were releasing, under the power they couldn’t bear, guarding their prison, faint-hearted, afraid, ready to feed on his night, only to reach peace. Only to not collapse under the pressure of the god’s awakening rage.

And only he knew the truth. Which, unknown to others, wasn’t becoming less tasty, less… pleasing.

“It seems your subjects enjoy the rite” he heard Nymre’s voice. Beautifully mocking.

“In New Lunar Year the woods drags us closer to them” he smiled at her, sparks in his black eyes. “Drink from us and allow us to drink from them. At least… that’s what the priests tend to say.”

Nymre’s eyes widened… and she laughed. Her aura shivered slightly. Anticipating.

“You do not share the sentiment of your court.”

“Not at all. I share it, reluctantly. I know the forest loves to test us, though. It’s an unpredictable, cruel god. They think they explain its wishes to us. While the forest toys with them… just as with you or me.”

Nymre’s eyes drilled him through. Her mind almost forcefully begged him to read her thoughts, to be one with him… so he slipped into her.

Shallow thoughts. Pleased elation. Curiosity. And deeper… doubt, worry. So much of it. His eyes closed, when he spoke inside her head.

They are fools, Nymre.

Don’t you worry that the woods would ask for your heir?

That is always a possibility. But I don’t tend to fear, Nymre. I act.

Her mind latched to him, in a possessive grip. He allowed to her to become one with him. It was another kind of union… more intimate than sex… but at the same time much more painful in its purity.

He was becoming Nymre, with all of her. With her desire. With all her inner strength, untamed wilderness of her nature.

With her fear.

And with her love.

“Our king.”

“Lorian Ain’Dal, hundredth king of Ain’asel.”

He parted with her, slowly, to not harm her.

He raised his black eyes at the gathering under the portal to sacred woods, a core place of the chamber. The cathedral was built around it, to give honors to the god of the moss, which allowed Dal’coler to sprout from the mountain. The fact that the fae themselves built it, biting into stone with their magic, was forgotten through many ages.

The priests, clad in thick black, looked like ominous ravens, with not less thick silky capes dragging behind them in a parody of wings. Nymre would be offended by the comparison. Ravens were graceful, harbingers of the eternal storm, while them… decomposing alive, eaten by the power they had to guard.

Lorian offered the court his most perfect smile. He didn’t fear that his reign would end. He knew it wouldn’t. The forest liked him, craved him, it wanted him in the most perverse way. If someone was to replace him, if he somehow decided to have a child… the woods would remove them. Fast and without remorse.

The priests were looking at him from under the dry out flesh that were their veils and he felt their thoughts, chaotic, pained, terrified. They also hoped, no, they needed him on the throne. Only he could stop their anguish, take the burden from their backs.

Kill the First Ones.

End their misery.

They would prefer death over becoming like him, filled with fire and pain. They weren’t ready for the flames. But he was more than eager to take that from them, as long as he could drink the heat from the holy veins and fill himself with delicious power.

Stop them. Kill them. Swallow them whole, like a treat that hangs on the tallest tree – a reward that was worthy of all the effort.

The priests opened before him to let him in their circle. He stepped into it, allowing the dark and dim energy of the woods enter his body.

He was never ready for it, but he welcomed it even more eagerly. The power of the woods entwined with him and he felt the rapture, not even slightly similar to the one that was washing over him, when he was eating blood apples. The second was strong like a hammer and overwhelming like a snow storm… the touch of the woods was pure tranquility. A smile bloomed on his lips and his aura pulled the dark energy in… taking it inside.

Pleasure instead of pain.

A soothing calmth of the moss and rippling stream, instead of rays of the cruel sun.

He could almost sense the scent of the forest, of the old bark, of resin and of the leaves murmuring in the darkness, moved by the wind…

He didn’t know how long it lasted, how long the woods were claiming him as theirs, making him rest in the protective peace of the enchanted overgrowth. He abandoned himself in it, catching each tendril of the soothing delight. His so often pained body relaxed and drifted in familiar darkness, which was becoming one with his shadows. Just like he became one with Nymre.

“No heir. The woods decided.”

The words pulled him violently from the pond of the green stillness.

He heard Nymre’s sigh, a relief.  Her aura glimmering through her, her features not as tensed as before. Her body slowly relaxing.

And he had plans which surely would allow her to relax even more.

His mind entered heads of the whole court; the cacophony of voices, thoughts, and hidden dreams and cravings hit him with their pure and loud power.

Blossoming hatred, well hidden, yet so obvious.

Just as well hidden approval, silent keen of his loyal ones.

The fear, delicacy that he never had enough of.

And one thought which was repressing them all.

Leira’s bold and powerful core, beaming with well tamed but strong hope, in the far distance.

You hate what you are becoming.

And  you love it.

Just like her.

7 Comments on “ATOM: Luna – I”

  1. Beautifully written!!🖤 At times, you can almost smell the forest. 🥰
    But I don’t understand what’s going on. Is it a ceremony for nature to decide whether Lorian will have an heir?

    1. I added in text small explanation, but yes! When woods choose the new king, the son of the current one – the old king dies. But woods don’t want Lorian to have replacement 😉
      The woods are an ancient good for the fae. And in case of Lorian, who decided to not have children, they decided if he needs to or not.

  2. I simply love how you described the ritualists or priests. “Like ominous ravens” and then “decomposing alive, eaten by the power they had to guard”.
    This screams at the reader that there is something deeply wrong with the forest, sick, maybe already rotten to the core, while the traditionally upheld ceremonies of the court and the king want to tell that “everything is quite alright”.

    This contrast is such a good image that reminds me of quite a few things going on in the real world as well xD

    How Lorian holds on to Nymre’s mind like she was some kind of anchor to him, and at the same time he knows that he hurts and maybe slowly destroys her as well. He does not want it, then again this is exactly what he wants. And, surprise … Nymre is loyal to him, more than it’s good for her. Would she stand up to him if he goes too far?
    I don’t know, ravens are no martyrs by nature. And yet they say that a raven only chooses one mate for his whole life.
    Loyality could become quite the torture for poor Nymre …

    And, question: Why does the forest choose Lorian as ruler over and over again? Would an heir not be better to manipulate and control? Throw the court into chaos? What are the motives of the forest god, can you give away a bit or would this be a spoiler for the story?

    1. I can spoil you here a bit 🙂

      The awakening gods slowly destroy the priests and the sacred woods. Lorian takes it too slowly, but then again, he cannot take more, it would kill him. So he really relies on Tiyan now. Otherwise, it will kill him indeed and with him, all the others.

      Nymre’s torment is real and Lorian is aware of it. And exactly this is what he hates in all of it and wants.

      The woods want Lorian to free them. From First Ones, who destroy them. The woods are not vile god, just dark. They love fae, in peculiar, selfish way. They want them walking among the tress, not dead. They are in oposition of First Ones, who want only to feed themselves. So, they need Lorian and are in another selfish way, grateful of what he does.

      1. Oh I see, so the First Ones feed on the woods, and Lorian protects the woods in his own very peculiar and self-harming way?
        Dark Fae truly are twisted. But I begin to grasp the depth of connection they all have towards their realm. It’s not just “living in the woods”, more like “being part of it”, right?
        Actually, what happens is very sad.

        1. Yes. They really feel the bond with the forest, they are exactly that, unmovable part of it. They will live and die with it.
          Oh yes, this is sad and dark. But Lorian will succeed, even if his motives are selfish and he will pay a price.

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