A Taste of Mortality

dark fantasy wip
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2.

I may rewrite prologue too. I feel darker and darker [ curiouser and curiouser ].

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ATOM: The Fear Within – V

He always had nightmares. Very vivid ones, very… touchable. Like he could feel the coarse, cold and metallic texture of theirs. They always revolved around his family. How they survive, if something happens to him on the hunt. Of course, his father could hunt as well, he was much more experienced. But his right leg wasn’t good enough, an old scar coming through muscle, slowing him down.

This night, as two previous ones, Tiyan was afraid to fall asleep. Night meant darkness and darkness attracted monsters. He was aware that his house, made of wood, won’t be a problem for the fey kind. Glass windows were merely a nuisance, wood, old and maybe solid, but the fey had spells, which could lure him out. He would go willingly, and that scared him most.

He was slowly losing his mind, which, for him, happened very fast. But for the first time as well, he escaped the fairy clutches and didn’t know what they really wanted from him.

He would prefer them come, even if that meant fight, or death. Acting was always better than waiting. He was used to acting, to tearing life from the world, which was trying to push him to the ground. Waiting for looming danger was like allowing to be hunted, not being a hunter himself.

Each night he was promising he wouldn’t sleep, and each night he was knocked off his feet by simple tiredness. He was awake in the morning, looking at woods lighted up by the faint, winter sun and wondered, how long it will take before his questions will be answered. Maybe a year? A year, living in constant fear.

Tonight, he managed to stay up until midnight. But that was enough for his tired body and he simply collapsed on the chair, hands hanging on the sides, and open mouth.

The moonlight seemed to cocoon him up, in a bubble of light. And Tiyan entered the dream realm, which soon will make him trash and scream.

Mina was carried somewhere.

Carried by enemies, tangled in vines, in a cacophony of laughs, which reminded him of his own incident in the woods. Tiyan ran after her, ran fast, but the grass seemed to catch his feet, like wanted to swallow him and bury in black soil.

Mina cried and cried, sometimes it looked like he was close,  but then, he heard her from a different direction, he tried to go there, and then grass again was opening its gaping mouth.

“Poor boy, poor man!” he heard mocks but they mixed with Mina’s screams and soon he couldn’t place which is which. He stopped, not knowing where to go, panic bubbling in his chest.

“Poor boy” he suddenly heard just near his ear. Something, a power of unknown kind, forced him to look at the ethereal wonder that was hanging in the air, just next to him.

The woman was tiny, even smaller than a cat. Her beautiful, opalescent wings looked like glitter in the darkness, shining with light which seemed to come from within her. Her face was perfection incarnate, a triumphant smile dancing on her lips, when she was stiffling a laughter.

She wore nothing that could hide her body, she was bare under a thin gossamer dress.

“Poor boy, can’t save the sister, must be disappointed with himself.” she laughed, the other laughters joining her from the darkness.

“Release her, I will do whatever you want me to” said Tiyan, trying to not feel cold sweat trickling down his back.

“Release her?” her big eyes opened wide. “Why? We are having so much fun.”

“Please… just, do not harm her.” Tiyan shivered at the word “fun”.

“But she was already tasted, very young and delicious.”

Tiyan forced himself to not scream, that would only show his weakness before the fey. Tasted. Tasted. Tasted, it rang in his head, with a bell-like sound.

“Please, I know it’s me who you want.”

“He is tasty too. But protected. Protected, so we can’t feed on him.” laughed the tiny fey. “But we still can drink the fear, drink the despair. LOOK.”

His head snapped back and the same force as before, made him turn again and then, his throat clenched, his muscles tensed, his whole being wanted to just disappear.

Mina was held in a cage made of vines, roots were closing around her like a trap and Tiyan couldn’t even see her through them. Yet, the trail of blood leading to the vined prison, was obvious enough, to guess, that he can’t count on her safety. Then he heard a muffled voice, a silent cry from the trap, and his skin crawled. The vines around her seemed to move and rustle, squeezing her even harder, more blood trickled between the crevices.

They fey around her giggled and looked at him with intensity. Sick enjoyment in their eyes.

“Please, no…” he uttered and this time, turned back, by his own will.

“It’s me! It was me, who you wanted! It’s me who escaped. Why do you do this?” but he knew why.

Because they wanted to.

Because they could.

Because nothing could stop them.

“He wants to save her?” grinned the winged woman. “So, he wakes up. Maybe he will make it in time.”

Tiyan suddenly opened his eyes, Wide, like not believing he is here, not in this nightmarish place from before. The moonlight danced on the walls, everything slept – his house, his family… even the woods slept, dreaming rotten dreams.

But he remembered the fey’s words.

Mina.

Maybe he will make it in time.

He caught the clothes, fast, faster than lightning, wore the boots and even faster left his room. Nothing indicated that something wrong was going on, even Tiyan’s dog slept with righteous sleep. But Tiyan felt, just felt, this is not going to end well.

He ran into Mina’s room, and his heart skipped a beat. The bed was empty. Fumbling, he rushed to search for her in the house, but she wasn’t there as well and Tiyan already knew that she left the house, because fairies lured her out. She would never go outside at night, she knew how dangerous it was.

He fell from the house and running forth, he called his sister, with more and more fear in his voice. He didn’t dare to lose the house from sight, not now, but he tossed around between the trees, like a maddened hare.

“Mina!”

He felt as his body refused to work, his breath ragged, his hands trembling, his mind writing scenarios of death and pain.

“Mina!! For goddess’ sake!”

The darkness looked thick, even with moon shining above him and he knew, he really knew, it all was planned.

Something you cherish the most. They know your nightmares. And biggest fears.

“Tiyan…”

He heard it only, because the woods were silent, like a pillow made of softest feathers.

Her voice was muffled. Resigned.

He didn’t want to turn back. He knew that everytime he turns back, he sees horrors.

But he had to.

And he did.

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ATOM: The Fear Within – IV

The night passed slowly. Very slowly. Then the day came, lit by the faint sun, the fog raised from the lake and the woods looked like draped with thick spiderwebs. Tiyan felt a throbbing, dim pain of fear in his heart, that he was able to tame enough, to not show it to his family.

But they knew, of course they knew. They always knew. He would be naive if he believed it isn’t so. But was glad that they allowed him to keep it in himself, buried under shallow earth.

Alina Markon would never give her son to fairies. That was out of the question. His father straight up opposed it. Mina wasn’t even aware, what happens in the minds and hearts of others. And Korr, Tiyan’s dog, slept, with a dreamless sleep.

Tiyan eventually wore the warm clothes, scarfs and heavy boots, and went, slowly, like a mourning procession, to carry the remaining meat to the old mer’s house. Mer died during the war, his sons -too. Only his old wife and their daughter occupied the once important house. They were unable to hunt, never were taught this trade. A nasty thought entered Tiyan’s mind, that if he was sent to the woods, to die there, these women wouldn’t rely on him anymore. Others of course could help them and probably would, but they were living through their own silent nightmare. Only Tiyan seemed to care enough. The current world brought to life hard, remorseless people. But… he liked to feel needed. By his family and by others too. It was helping him too, to more accept the current life.

The snow muted his steps, as he passed the silent people. They sometimes were nodding at him, but mostly, kept to themselves. Only one woman stopped after he passed her, and looked after him, with a smile.

“Tiyan?”

He stood in the mid step, like paralyzed.

“Noyd.”

They tried something together, not that long ago. Filling the empty void that was sucking life from the village. They desperately sought warmth, understanding, and even pleasure, fast and painful in its bitter truth. They latched to each other, like snow to the trees. Drinking sweetness that seemed forbidden, when all was falling apart.

She would love it to continue. Tiyan… couldn’t.

Now, he was so glad that it was in the past. If they still were together, the lesser folk would know. And do something he would be unable to unsee.

They stared at each other. Untold things hang between them, heavy, difficult. Tiyan shook his head.

“I think it would be better going” he uttered. He would be better indeed. His mind maybe was not open before fairies anymore… but who knows what they read in his thoughts. Maybe finished unhappy love… or maybe something more… tasty.

What an awful word. Awful and wrong.

He saw disappointment in her green eyes.

“Perhaps we could…”

“Perhaps” he buried his gaze in the package with meat he was holding.

“So…”

“Yes.”

“Go. Do not let them wait. Because they wait, yes?”

“Them—?” he quickly realized that she meant mer’s family. Of course, them. Not the hungry night.

She walked off, her thick trousers’ legs wet from snow, her woolen hat put tightly on her long, copper hair. Tiyan inhaled and slowly exhaled the air, which took the form of a cloud made of breath.

There go my choices. Perfect.

The mer’s wife welcomed him with a weak smile, an old woman from a good house, which already was unused to a small village life. What was happening now, was draining her like a leech. Her hair were still brown though, not white, like his mother’s. She never saw a war first-hand. She never fought with spells of the High Fae. She never was captured. But she looked weaker and more afraid than Alina, like not experiencing all of this made her even less prepared for this kind of life.

“Where is Soira?”

“Still sleeping. She still fights with the sickness from last month.”

“Tell her I asked how she feels.”

“I will.”

“The meat it salted. So it kept you both going for longer.”

“We appreciate.”

He handed her the package and allowed her to invite him for a thin tea made of herbs. No one was doing and mixing herbs like Dolsa Reinard.

She made him one glass, took the second herself and slowly started to drink, a tea made on snow. Tiyan sipped too. It was really good.

“So… anglor” she smiled at him meekly.

“Yes” Tiyan returned the smile. “All seem to know what I bring them. Am I so predictable?”

“Yes. But that’s not a bad thing. Thanks to that, you always come back to us.”

Tiyan was never good at receiving compliments. Perhaps, because he had low self-esteem. Or because he thought that he always does things wrong, especially when he tried hard. And therefore he must try harder than others, because good won’t find him as easily as them.

“I know. You don’t  like that” Dolsa laughed. A kind, motherly laughter. “But that is true. You have a good heart, Tiyan Markon.”

“I…” he lost his words completely.

“You know that, deep down your heart. You judge yourself too harshly. Perhaps, it would be good, if you gave another chance to that girl. I see how you look at her. Or rather, how you don’t look.”

Tiyan suddenly started to feel like falling under the floor would be a better thing than hearing praises. He almost stood up, but Dolsa put her old hand on his own.

“Do not go.”

Tiyan plumped heavily. His heart sank. Do not go. A word that appeared in his nightmares way too often.

“Talk to me. I see something burdens you, something heavy. Would you tell me?”

But Tiyan couldn’t tell. Couldn’t and didn’t want to. The compliments warmed him up and gave him hope, even if he was unused to them, even if he refused to acknowledge them. But if she heard how he endangered his family, and a village, they would stop falling on his heart, replaced by acid of disappointment and scorn.

But he stayed.

And talked.

About everything, but not himself.

Categories sitely

1.

I plan to write another chapter between III and IV. I posted IV one fast, because my mind circled about the idea and it wanted to tear out from my head.

So… I will write this missing chapter tomorrow.

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The Fear Within – III

He opened the door, the frosty wind fell into the room with a deft gust and danced in the fireplace, causing the fire to wave like a living creature.

He felt exhausted and fear took its toll, his whole body was tense and hurt, his muscles tired and sore. But he had the prey, he had the meat, even if he will have to cut even more rot from it, making the portions smaller. He will feed the family, and that was what counted most.

He tossed the sack on the floor and quickly closed the door, so the air didn’t become colder.

“Tiyan!”

“Mina” he smiled meekly and a small bundle of legs and arms and cloth attacked him with a vicious strength. Mina laughed, still was able to laugh, and whenever she was doing so, his world was becoming a bit better place. Even if she was underfed, she was finding good in everything, like only a child could. He regretted his childhood, even this weak substitute of it, was taken from him, on the battlefield. Even if it taught him a lot – but not necessary good things. The sight of his tvelve years old sister, being so thin yet full of strange optimism, which he didn’t share, was making both his heart ache and learn that not all what is cruel will destroy the spark.

“You brought the food,” said Mina, already checking the sack. “Eh, anglor again?”

“Sadly yes” he said with a tired voice and walked in, his feet carrying him closer to the fireplace. “They are the easiest prey, despite their weight and sharp teeth.”

Mina took the sack and took it to the kitchen.

“Mom, Tiyan brought rotten meat,” she said with an almost playful tone.

A head poked from the doorframe. Alina Markon was looking worse than her daughter, even if not that thin. Her hair was scarce and white and her face was torn by a large burned out tissue. During the war, she fought too, and the face was not the only place where she had scars. But the ones that still didn’t heal, were in her soul. Tiyan knew that she was captured by the lesser folk just after the High Fae conquered Avras. And that she never wanted to talk about it.

She sniffed the air.

“Anglor?”

Tiyan nodded with resignation. He didn’t know how she did it. Sensing scent. But she was right of course.

“I will try to hunt something more, so we have more… variety” he said, knowing how silly it sounds.

“If you won’t be able, don’t try” she replied, taking the sack from Mina. “You came back too late. Night is dark and full of monsters.”

Oh, Tiyan did know that. He just met some of them.

Alina disappeared in the kitchen and started to strip the meat from the rest of the rot, Tiyan was grateful that he didn’t need to do it now. He felt as his muscles relaxed and the worst tension left him. He sat on his favorite armchair and his body sunk in it, making him feel safe for the first time today.

Even if he wasn’t.

Mina sat too and observed him from narrowed brows. Her brows always seemed misplaced in her tiny, ethereal face – thick, long and black as coal.

“You are all torn” she eventually said and he realized that she meant his ragged clothes. Or not. “The anglor fought hard?”

“No… not really,” he sighed. “He was just heavy. And of course claws, they were everywhere.”

“You are scared, Tiyan” Mina had to be so observant, of all times, now.

Was that so visible? He fell even harder into the chair, not wanting to talk about it. He was indeed scared. If the small folk were now after him, they all might be endangered. And as he hated lying to them, exposing them to danger, he selfishly hoped that he won’t need to leave the village, like all touched by fairy attention. He naively thought that his family could protect him. He closed his eyes and allowed himself to not think at all.

Mina stopped being inquisitive. One knows when a case is lost.

Not thinking at all. That was what saved him. But won’t save him again. They fey already thanked him for his curtsy and now will just move to whatever vicious play they thought for him.

When Tiyan opened his eyes again, the meat was already cooked, and the scent of moss mixed with the scarce spices they had, filled the air in the room.

Tiyan’s father, Gravir, was sitting already by the table, boots in mud and snow, his gaze fixed on his son, in a much more intrusive way, than the curious eyes of Mina. Gravir Markon always was trying to amortize any shock that his family was about to get, but never lied to them. Tiyan, though… was used to roll his thoughts alone, never sharing any of his struggles, sometimes outright not telling them the truth. To the point that Mina never believed when he was saying he feels well enough, and his mother, looked at him with knowing gazes, when something even slightly looked out of norm.

Tiyan didn’t have to wait long, though, before Gravir said.

“You met the fairies.”

“Yes, father.”

There was no reason to lie. After all, it was not his family’s fault.

“They didn’t kill you.”

“No.”

“So they want something from you” was the grave answer of his father.

“How do you know?” Tiyan wanted to know, at least that.

“Alina sensed them on you.”

Ah, his mother. Her … “gift”. Something she didn’t want to talk about as well. Tiyan was almost sure that it was connected with her days of captive, so… also never asked.

“How did you escape them?” insisted Gravir.

“I… I tried the law of open mind.”

“You fool.”

Tiyan swallowed hard. Fool. That’s what he was. Yes, he was one. The small folk will come for him, if not tomorrow, then the other day. Or prolong it to give him hope and appear at the least expected moment.

“You gave them way to your feelings and memories, you stupid boy. They know now, what you fear most… and what you love most. Who you care for. That was a foolish step.”

“Should I allow them to eat me?” bursted Tiyan suddenly. His father’s gaze darkened, brown deep eyes drilling him through and through.

“Perhaps. Perhaps that would be better. Not for us. For you.”

And Tiyan knew it. Gravir was right. His life brushed against the horror but it was only the beginning of it.

He will get to know the fear yet. Deeply and painfully.

“Will you send me into the woods?” Tiyan had difficulty forming the sentence. If the answer is yes, he will be doomed, in every meaning of this word. But at the same time he didn’t want to endanger them. Not mother. And not Mina.

Gravir still looked at him intensely, a visible struggle inside him, fighting for common sense.

“No. No, Tiyan, even if in the eyes of the village, I should. But won’t do it. You don’t deserve an exile, just because you didn’t want to be killed.”

“But they can come for you too,” said Tiyan bitterly.

“Nothing that walks this earth is immortal, even if it claims so. I will fight for my home. And I hope you will too. Exiling… is not what I have learnt from our situation. We should all stick together, or the fear is what eats us before the feykind.”

Tiyan thought for a moment that perhaps it’s his father who is a fool. But he was grateful for his decision, which was coming from his heart, not mind.

Alina brought the pot filled with meat. Mina jumped to the table, sitting in her place. And Tiyan… Tiyan lost an appetite.

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ATOM: The Fear Within – Part II

The moon barely lightened the path Tiyan chose. He knew the woods, or at least most of it. He had to spend nights in the forest before, but rarely he felt so exposed. The chill was biting him in places that he knew were well protected. The cold stars didn’t give any light. Tiyan was alone, and that alone was dangerous during the night, which started to rule over the woods, making branches look like hands and roots like talons.

Tiyan was not a child, but in the past, when he got lost in the forest, he knew that he must keep animals far enough with fire and not provoke them. Even as a young boy, he knew how to survive in the overgrowth, as back then, nothing stalked you shrouded in magic, nothing seethed with hunger unquenched, dreaming of your soul.

After the Great War, the fair folk made clear that lesser beings can and will pass the borders between the kingdoms. And humans, as a prey, as those who lost their free will, had to agree on that. They were mere fodder for darkness.

Tiyan couldn’t even hate the fae. All people living in Vennklan Valley knew who was responsible for their anguish. They knew but could do nothing.  That’s why hatred dissipated, leaving only a stone cold will for survival.

Snow. Snow muted the feelings, like enchanted, like a pillow, which chokes and gives comfort.

Tiyan fixed the sack on his back and went down the sloping terrain, still not seeing the lights of the village.

He knew he should see them already. He had an inner compass combined with a clock inside his body, which never failed him. He should be already in the village, in fact.

And that could mean only one thing. Or rather two, but the second one was not even an option.

He got lost in the darkness. Or… someone changed paths and misguided his steps. Or rather… Something.

He inhaled and exhaled, once, twice. Was this a sound of breaking twig, there, on the left? And was the call of the nighthawk especially loud?

Tiyan couldn’t panic. If these were sidhe playing with him, only calmth could save him. Think. Think. Do not let yourself lose your mind, if they try to enchant you.

There were times when Tiyan would say that sidhe, the small folk, rarely came close to Vennklan Valley, keeping to main roads, where it was easier to feed on emotions and fear and human flesh. But he was aware that it was only his luck, that his contact with the fey was limited. Still hoping it was him who lost the way, he started his effortful march forth, deciding to not give himself to fear.

To feel fear in the woods, is to be alive in the woods.

Perhaps, he thought. But fear numbs senses and makes you think only about running away, while with small folk, one needs to have clear thoughts and sharp reflexes. So something he surely didn’t have now.

His path continued down, down the slope, and now, even his doubtful mind had to admit, that ways are misplaced and the nighthawk call sounds like a hysterical song of a seelie bard.

Do not lose nerves, Tiyo. Not now. This is another hunt, the hunt of the fey. And you are their prey.

He started to walk faster, not looking behind himself. Rustling everywhere, the forest talked, share with him the secrets he didn’t want to know. The path became even more unfomfortable and he thought he saw how one root moves in his direction, slowly worming his way. The snow was catching to his feet, like a glue.

He felt it more than heard or saw. The branches seemed to reach to him and realizing that it’s not a mirage of the night, he could do only one thing.

He sat on the wet snow, not minding how cold drinks the warmth from him through the wetted places, and closed his eyes; he turned his brain off.

The wave of wings attacked him immediately. They fairies brushed against his robes, tearing the scarves off him, biting his clothes, trying to find a good place to access his flesh. Darkness around him seemed to solidify and embrace him with a cocoon. Tiyan stopped thinking at all, like his life depended on it, which, in fact, was the truth.

When he thought the moment never came, he heard a single fairy speak to him. Just inside his own brain. He shut his eyes tighter.

“Human prey. Knows ancient rules. Knows rules of mind speech. And wants to escape by knowing them.”

Tiyan knew that now, all his replies may be cruelly shredded into pieces and used against him. He decided to give simplest replies, so the fey couldn’t hang on his words.

“I respect ancient rules of the feykind.”

“But refuses a meal? Refuses bones and flesh?”

“My bones and flesh are worthless.”

“On the contrary! Good blood, we sense it in his veins.”

“I can… I can offer another.”

“Human, human?”

“No. Animals. But bigger than me, more flesh, bones and blood. I can hunt them for you, fill you with their fear.”

“Animals here don’t feel fear. Animals rot until they are numb. We can hunt them too. Weak trade.”

“But they are able to feel despair” thought Tiyan, reminding himself of the death gaze of the anglor he killed, purposefully not replying on the last. His options were melting.

“But no human soul. Human souls are the most delicious.”

Tiyan didn’t know how to reply. He would panic, if not the second voice, joining the first. Which was odd, as the mind connection could be done only between one human and one fey. The second voice started to talk fast and very soon another joined, which already was beyond his understanding.

“This is…”

“… it’s him…”

“… it’s him…”

“No… it can’t be…”

“He ordered to…”

“… never oppose the shadow…”

“… never oppose the night…”

More voices were joining and soon, Tiyan heard a cacophony of sound in his head, tearing his skull apart, rumbling inside it like an avalanche.

And it ended as quickly as it started. And before him, the familiar lights of his village, cozy, even if not promising a lot.

For him, they promised life.

Shaking, Tiyan stood, took the sack with meat which he checked if it wasn’t emptied by the hungry small folk and moved his trembling steps in the direction of lights. The noise of the fairy voice haunted him all the way to his home. The noise, through which he heard time by time “it’s him”.

They knew him, they were aware of who he was, whoever he was to them. And if they didn’t kill him, that meant they planned to toy with him, which was even worse than death.

Never oppose the shadow.

He wouldn’t even dare. As long as he could stay out of any shadows, which hid mysteries filled with teeth and wings.

Categories wip

ATOM: The Fear Within – I

Tiyan’s tired legs were leaving footprints in the thick snow. Muted landscape seemed to laugh from his attempts, yet the boy knew that he can’t return home without even one prey. Hunger was entering his house – and not only his. The whole Vennklan Valley was petrified in time – held head down by eternal winter. It drained them from strength and pushed into desperation. This winter felt harsher, like it wanted to check how long they can live in these conditions without breaking in half.

Some were broken.

Some still fought.

Some, like Tiyan, possessed certain skills, which were helping them survive. Existence became a string of days, which dragged like a wounded moose through the snow, an endless darkness without hope for the better, Maybe only for worse.

Tiyan felt as the cold slowly crept under his jacket and he tucked himself even deeper into the layers of scarves. This kind of clothing was slowing him down, but he had no choice. The freezing air liked finding holes in his defense.

He was equipped with short spear, his freezing hands, which he couldn’t hide in gloves, were barely usable. The wind though, the cruel wind, not that long ago brought the scent of carcass. Which seemed a salvation.

Where there is fresh carcass, at least one anglor will be as well.

Anglors, the scavenger type of wolves, which evolved during the long winter, touched by decaying magic, were one of the most sturdy and strong animals in Vennklan woods. Yet only them and few other species weren’t touched with dark spells which were making them indedible. And even if anglors were still filled with rot on the skin, their meat was clear, even if bitter in taste, didn’t cause any sickness.

Before the Great War, humans would never consider eating canines. Now, twelve years ago after it, everything changed.

The woods were filled with mishapen creatures, sometimes people were missing, and returning – white haired, with dead gazes, almost frozen – but still breathing, like puppets held together by unknown and terrifying force.

His father was always telling him that Vennklan Valley is still in better condition than the villages in the mountains, closer to Unseelie realm. It was only partially true. The animals that they usually were hunting for, at first lost their common sense, started to attack the human settlements, mushrooms growing straight from their skin, maws filled with blood, and eyes blind – or at the opposite; seeing too much. Decay was taking their minds, and taking their instinct away.

Then came magical abominations. Animals, who were only partially touched with rot. Beasts, which magic that slipped into Avras changed so much that they stopped reminding something alive. Yet they breathed and lived; dangerous like stepping over the abyss, bloodthirsty and always stronger, always better than their ancestors.

Magic crept from the Fae realms, untamed, wild and deadly.

And people who went too close to Unseelie lands, the fey lands, never returned. Eaten by the magical overgrowth of the Fae kingdom. No one knew what could happen with them, if they were killed – or worse. The Fae could seem beautiful and gracious, but their calculated ruthlessness was something all humans living in Avras knew all too well – and tried to avoid, if given.

The Fae were creatures of old days and old darkness. They possessed skills beyond human comprehension and their hearts were filled with black knowledge and night from the eve of time. They kept the whole Avras under his boot, from afar but very effectively. Snow and ice shackled the whole kingdom and made life in it dependent and cruel.

The scent of the carcass was more and more prominent. Tiyan fixed his cold hand on the spear and started slowly cutting through the bushes, trying to make as little noise as possible. The snow worked on his behalf this time and muted his tearing sounds as he crept through the branches and snowy foliage.

The only noise was the one made by the anglor. He was there. Tiyan’s heart started to beat hopefully. He really was there.

He closed the fingers of left hand on the sharp knife. If  the animal takes the spear with itself, he will be able to finish it with a cut through its aorta.

The anglor slurped the blood already, a loud noise, of which the boy was grateful. The scent of blood was masking his own smell, and the noises anglor was making made Tiyan’s approach even more soundless.

He peeked from the bushes, trying to be as invisible as possible.

The beast was covered in old blood and old wounds. In the laceration on its back, a colony of fungi grew and his whole skin was touched by severe decay. Tiyan held his breath and waited for the best moment to attack. The animal relished on blood, bit through the bones and drank the marrow. Alongside with the overpowering scent of rot, it was making Tiyan nauseous, even if numerous hunts taught him a certain resistance on such sights.

And then, the beast spat with blood and rushed at him, with its horned head turned straight at him.

Fuck, Tiyan wanted to pin the beast with the spear and aimed for the heart, but it quickly wriggled it with sharp teeth from his fingers. Its maw dripped with thick saliva and something oozy and foamy. Do not allow it to bite you, he reminded himself the words of his father. One bite and you are dead, even if you will walk for days, without symptoms. His only chance was the knife now, yet he had to allow the animal very close, and that always meant risk.

Tiyan groaned and the anglor fell on him like a enormous sack of potatoes, pinning him to the ground with sharp claws and decaying body. Its long tongue working dangerously close to his throat.

Tiyan moaned with fury and fear, when the overpowering reek of decay attacked his senses. The rotting fur and flesh seemed to enter his mouth, gagging him. He couldn’t allow it, and his hand slowly started to move under the massive body of the anglor.

“Get. of. me…” he muttered into the fur, trying to find with his armed hand a place where rot was especially loose and his knife would get easier into the healthy flesh. The beast growled just into his face, hitting him with breath filled with vermin and stench; Tiyan almost choked on it.

Its teeth were closer and closer to his own aorta. His hand worked desperately, his fingers worming under the large body, until he found it… a small loose patch, where the rot was so deep, that it started to eat the muscles. Tiyan, hitting the large head with his elbow, moved the anglor a bit, but enough to free the hand…and stick the knife just into the flesh of the attacking animal.

The descendant of the wolf screamed.

It was really a scream, pained, sad and shocked. Its eyes turned at him, even sadder. Almost human. Its pupils widened in horror and Tiyan felt a pang of guilt and strange thought insisted into his mind – if these beasts suffer too and how much they understand from their agonizing condition. If they are mindless terrors – or, how he always suspected, they are still animals of olden times, trapped in cages without locks and bars.

“I am sorry”, uttered Tiyan, and slit its throat with one movement of the shaking hand.

When he stood over the dead body, trying to spit the rest of ill fur from his mouth, he didn’t feel victory or elation from the well-done hunt.

He only thought about how ugly this world had become.

And how uglier it will become in the future.

He slowly started to strip the anglor from the rotten skin and cut the healthy meat from it.

The snow was colored with blood. His hands barely moved, but he would never be able to carry the whole anglor on his back.

Cursed snow.

Everywhere and seemingly everything too, pushing them head deep into all of this.

It was everywhere, even in his heart.

Fighting with need to vomit, he continued the skinning, until he had enough of fresh meat to put into the sack and carry it home. His sister waited for him, his father, mother and grandmother. Waiting for the hunter to come home.

When he turned back from the dead form of the skinned anglor, the sun already started to set. In hurry, Tiyan headed the Vennklan Valley. During night, the darkness becomes alive.

During night… the darkness becomes hungry.

Categories wip

ATOM: Prologue

Tiyo didn’t remember much of the Great War between the people and the Kilyans of the fae lineage. It was as if a thick fog has covered all his senses; dangerous and blinding, yet – at the same time – sensual and inviting. At least he imagined it this way. He wished strongly for it to be his refuge. He wanted to disappear when fae sellswords were murdering his friends and brothers. He didn’t want to watch as the ones he grew up with fell under the inevitable blows of the cruel Shee. He tried to use his sword but he was too young to do it properly. He shouldn’t have even been there, no one should. He was just another boy used as cannon fodder, another insignificant young life, a thread cut too early. Kilyan mages didn’t even have to enter the battlefield to sweep their enemies from the face of the earth with spells of the mightiness that Tiyo’s people could not even dream of. He could only try not to be brutally killed.

The battle he took part in was particularly vicious. The King of the Kilyans threw huge kritars at the humans, enormous carnivorous monsters with crystal teeth. The beasts tore apart their victims with bony claws, bloodstained double jaws, and teeth resembling sharp diamonds. The fae made sure they were eternally hungry for human flesh. It caused more fear and Kilyans loved it when humans feared them.

Tiyo was twelve at the time but his face was covered with blood and tears that flowed from his frightened eyes. Fear or regret, anger or despair, did it even matter? Where were the saru of the fae who protected the little ones from their demonic brothers? Where were the good beings who promised peace and kept the Dark Folk on a leash?

Sobbing from fear, he threw his useless sword on the ground and reached up to smear the tears with his dirty hands. The fae passed him by, aiming at the adult men whose screams pierced the thick air. Just for a brief moment, Tiyo wondered why he wasn’t attacked as well.

Shortly, a tall fae warrior covered in fog passed by, pausing only to take a peek at Tiyo. He didn’t even make an effort to hide the amused scorn reflected on his face. Tiyo felt piercing anger mounting inside his stomach. Why don’t they attack him? It’s as if he was so easy to get rid of that the act itself wasn’t worthwhile. The birds of prey have already been circling in the air, and their eyes were following not only the dead men lying dead on the battlefield but also the boy. As if they were beckoning him to join the army of corpses, littering the bloodstained ground.

“FIGHT, COWARD!” he heard a yell to his right. A human soldier, covered in the blue blood of the fae, held a sword dripping with the fluid that once ran through some Kilyan’s veins. Tiyo wanted to spark hatred in himself, for everything the Shee represented. Yet, to his surprise, he felt as if he couldn’t. What was happening on the battlefield was simply sad. Humans had no chance of winning and even their burning hatred for the Kilyan kind couldn’t change the fact that they were all lost long before the war had even started.

Tiyo tried to pick up his sword and fight, just as the stranger urged him.

Don’t be a failure. Do something. But his hands suddenly went numb, the strange fog intensified, hitting him with a waft of rank air, and the boy almost fell to his knees. That was when he felt it.

A spell drilling his side. There was no blood, just the distant feeling of pressure and pain. Feeling helpless, he slowly looked up and spotted the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. Faint, almost transparent eyes looked at him coldly. His long white hair moved in the wind and framed a long face, that was characteristic of Kilyans. But it did not convey the rage that usually accompanied the battle between the sworn enemies. It was an idle face. Indifferent, with no resentment. The man had so much contempt in his eyes that Tiyo involuntarily shivered. The penetrating spell continued to roll into his body. A quiet moan escaped his throat, insipid despite the unbearable pain. While the fae was slowly approaching Tiyo, a spear appeared in his hand with slender fingers. The boy thought it was even more beautiful than the Shee who held it.

The Kilyan, silent, beautiful, and indifferent, stood in the middle of the battlefield. Unconcerned, as if he was invincible.

He slowly lifted the spear, right when Tiyo eventually fell onto the bloodsoaked earth. The soil smelled of iron, but it also carried the strange scent of grass that the fae’s blood gave off. “There was not even a blade of grass growing there”, he thought unexpectedly and almost laughed, half-delirious from the pain. Feeling like he was going to pass out soon, numb with pain, he lifted his eyes once again and looked around the battlefield. The kritharas trampled the ground. The dark soil was stained with the blood of fighting armies, intermingling into puddles of blue and red. There was no life here.

He waited for the final blow. The Kilyan recited some words in his ethereal dialect that sounded like liquid sleep. Tiyo didn’t want to fight anymore. He’s had enough. Enough of his father, who told him to fight. He was done with the fae and king Robhar who foolishly thought he could defy magic.

Kill me and take this pain away. The boy curled up into a fetal position, wishing everything around him would finally come to an end.

Then he felt a terrifying cold. Death. The Kilyan hit me, and I’m so bemused that I didn’t even notice.

But after a few seconds, Tiyo realized that he wasn’t dying. He still drew breaths. They were sharp and shallow, but still, unmistakably his chest kept rising and falling. The white-haired fae began to speak to someone, quickly, in a hurry. In response, he received a murmur that might well belong not to a man, but a raging storm. It had a primordial sort of power that scared the boy more than the fight and all the shed blood around him.

“Us’slu man’ki sarra’l.” This time, a soft voice unfolded over Tiyo’s shaky body. He was afraid to look, fearing to see its owner. He felt that this fae was surrounded by cold evil – petrifying cruelty. Unfathomable in its boundless frigidity.

The boy didn’t understand what the Shee said, but suddenly his body became warm, instead of deathly cold. Eventually, the boy dared to lift his eyes but he saw only two hazy spots. One was bright, certainly belonging to the white-haired Kilyan, dressed in white robes. The second one was completely black. The image in front of his eyes began to blur and, for a second, Tiyo saw two black holes instead of eyes; gaping in emptiness, reminiscent of the infinite night. They were deeper than the ocean that his father traveled across on a freighter, a metal colossus that housed thousands of people. Fae constructors didn’t use metal; only light and night. Even the spear held by the Kilyan was created from the pure rays of the sun.

Dark eyes drilled into his soul. The black Kilyan seemed to grow in Tiyo’s mind, reaching the height of a colossus, similar to the ship his father worked at – a soulless monument.

He closed his eyes as the black fae leaned over him. He smelled of flowers and rain-washed ground after a storm.

“Don’t… don’t kill me…”, Tiyo managed to squeal. But the black fae only laughed – it was not a burst of evil laughter at all. It seemed to hold the promise of spring after cruel winter.

“Human child,” said the man in language of the Shee, “you have been sent in too early.” The tone of his voice lowered, turning into a whisper when the cold breath of the Shee touched Tiyo’s neck. “But children are precious prey. You should not be here, but I will never let the oath be broken in front of my eyes…”

Tiyo, dazed with the scent of flowers and the man’s soft voice, could no longer restrain his fatigue. He knew that they will kill him, they will surely kill him now…

The boy fainted. The last word that left his lips, as the faintest whisper, was “please”.

“You’re pleading?” amusement rang in the fae’s voice. “I am here to fulfill your plea.”

But Tiyo did not hear him anymore. The battle continued. The fae kept eliminating people at a bone-chilling rate. Yet, he lay still as if surrounded by a protective bubble. He slept like the child he was.

He slept dreamlessly on the ground, while the human empire was being shattered by the Shee forces.

Snow started falling on the now deserted battlefield, thick and freezing. Snow that has always prevailed in the land of Kilyans. The fae kingdom took over the human one and even the weather surrendered.

Someone carried Tiyo. It was someone with eyes black as coal and dark hair resembling raven’s feathers.

Categories poetry sitely

The Fae Court

You just stumbled into Lorian’s page for an adult dark fantasy tale, “A Taste of Mortality”.

we are jewels in the crown of midnight, dark obsidian tears, made of moonlight and blood rippling on sorrows’ surface, disturbing the night’s slumber

we are torn skin of the faint young sun, black fires burning on the forgotten hills, children of the opalescent haze and moondust touching the mortality with madness; ruling over abandoned circles and shadowed mazes

we are the last kiss from the goddess, blinding the nature with our brilliance, coating its heart with a stellar honey

Stay at your own risk… there be monsters.