You follow this strange lady down the hall keeping in the shadows as much as you can. As you follow her down stairs the bottom creaks sightly and you can feel your heart pound faster then it ever had before, but the lady seemed not to have noticed and continues outside.
You make your way across the floor avoiding anything that might cause you to make a slightest nose, as you get outside you see the full moon in an almost cloudless sky, you see the ocean raising and falling like a great slumbering beast and you see a ship moored in harbour. But you see no elven lady.
Staring at the ship docked openly, seemingly without guard, she hesitated in the shadows. She wasn't certain how long this opportunity would last. On one hand, she should bring someone with her in case things got hairy. Just because she couldn't see anyone didn't mean they werent there. On the other hand, it wouldn't do for all of them to storm the ship and walk into a possible ambush when she could simply gather info on her own.
The internal conflict lasted only a moment before she was off, keepin to the shadows as much as possible until she found a guard tower and ascended the steps....
The stairway was dark and smelled of rot and mold. To call it a stair was generous - it was no more than a crawlspace with upward-leading steps. It was a rather non-descript place, and at the first and second landings she found nothing of consequence. As she approached the third landing, she paused. Voices came to her in the dark, and she recognized one as the woman she had been following. The other was different, and she could not place at all. And then the words came to her. Though she could not follow the conversation in its entirety, she caught the primary message and felt all color drain from her. Her heart quickened, pouding loudly against her chest that she thought they would hear. Her only thought was to retreat.
Evani stuck to the shadows as best she could and made her way to the inn. But rather than go inside, she leaned against the building, crossed her arms over her chest, and watched the night.
She played over the conversation in her mind, and then the ones she'd shared with Ben and Shaben in the tavern. The pieces weren't fitting. something was out of place, and time was running out. Seeing nobody following after her after several long, agonizing moments, she slipped inside the building and went straight to Ben's room.
Strange, thoughtless nothingness enveloped him softly, like wispy blankets over his slumbering form. Music that never existed played unceasingly in the crawlspace of his mind. His body ached from the hardness of the wooden floors, and in the darkness he marveled about the weakness that a life on land could bring to a body, and so quickly! He had lived a gentle life these three years, occupying not a position of danger but rather a place as a pampered government asset. He was a man of power. No, not a King or a Governor, for he had observed throughout the years that the heads of Governors all too often ended hung up on pikes when their favour was lost. He was the whisperer in the shadows, the pilgrim, the wanderer.
He was safe.
A ghostly smile twisted its way over his visage. Deep in his heart there were the pictures of those that he had left behind, including himself. Faded, and well-worn, he had thumbed through this mental album hundreds of times, finding a soothing repetition as each memory was brought back into ferocious, colourful life, only to die and be replaced. One was never safe, not truly. The man who was once called magnificent hooked his arms beneath his head and gazed into the eaves. Grained wooden beams supported the roof, on which he could distantly hear a pattering of rain. The support beams stood stark like the ribs of a beautiful beast, and being in that bleakness was like being in the belly of the beast.
Beneath an overturned ship.
Padded footsteps whispered on the stair. Ben shut his eyes tightly and turned onto his side, willing them away. A cold chill of anticipation brushed over him as the tread of the stranger grew louder and closer. Gently, with a master’s understanding he gripped the hilt of his heavy hanger cutlass. His eyes shone forth as he rose, dusky diamonds in the dark. Cautiously , he slipped forward, the exposed metal of the blade gleaming in the shadows like an upturned smile. A deft twist of the wrist and the door creaked slowly open.
His body tensed to strike.
Silence. His eyes flickered once over the familiar features of the half-elf bard and his shoulders lowered.
“Evani”, he murmured.
The harsh line of his mouth softened and the weapon was lowered, although adrenaline was reflected in the icy fire of his emerald eyes. He scanned her expression, took in the pallor of her skin. “Well then, love”, he stated softly, and a faint smile curved about his lips like tendrils of wood-smoke.
“You look half scared to death”.
Posted on 2008-04-07 at 22:49:11.
Edited on 2008-04-07 at 22:52:09 by Septimus Sandalwood
Secrets swirled around him in a tangled web of lies and subterfuge. Evani crossed the room in silence and set down the dagger he had entrusted her with on a chair, then leaned against the wall, posed as she had been outside. Brushing away a lock of hair that fell before her eyes, she cocked her head, observing him.
"Septimus lives," she whispered. "But you knew this. Do you protect him or hunt him?"
Before he could answer, she pushed off from the wall and stepped towards him, so that he could see the fire in her eyes. Face to face, as close as they were, she knew there would be no mistake about her intent.
"They will kill you. Shaben, as well, and Septimus, and now me, if I am found with you. So you are going to give me a deeply compelling reason to risk my own life for yours and his and that of a dead pirate lord."
Shadows danced over her deep-set eyes, nestling in the hollows of her cheeks. He moved forward slightly, intrigued by the ethereal beauty that was hidden in her fear, but withdrew. He backpedaled slightly, shyly, sensing the lack of trust that radiated off her. She was terrified, yes, but not of him, no, never him. He instinctively knew that even if she truly understood her fear would be tainted by fascination, ay, even a misguided one. Some secrets had their own impossible lure, apart from those who perpetrated them.
He withdrew almost submissively, eyes lowering, understanding suddenly and unbearably what he would be to her if only she knew, if only she knew. A monster. Subhuman. Hated. Spurned. Feared. And yet the stories told were not of him. Throughout the entire ordeal he had developed a curious sort of dual personality. Septimus Sandalwood, his original identity, was exactly as the legends suggested he’d be, rash, dashing, bold, malevolent, and when that identity had perished, he had created a strange elder brother for himself, the wise, cautious Ben, who, although not without charm, was a great deal more reserved then was befitting a pirate lord.
“I protect myself”.
Ben’s cool gaze tracked her movements, a flicker of emotion in them that was not entirely unlike suspicion.
He stood apart from himself, the grayscale quality of his alabaster skin and onyx hair contrasting, inviting shades to play over his sharp, nearly gaunt features, reflecting his soul, reflecting his heart. The analytical workings of his mind were written clearly in the calculating almost reptilian gaze, a soft golden-emerald, rich and deep like light earth, flecked with mica. And then a flash of fear like crimson burned through the stillness, and he winced, almost cringing at the suddenness of her movements. He shied from her, taking a quick, stumbling step backwards and feeling his broad back hit the wall. Unwillingly, his eyes met her, and they were a woodland creature’s eyes, dark and wild, filled with a feral wariness…and something else.
“That sounds like an order”, he replied quietly, his voice trembling, eyes wide in his pale face. He grimaced slightly and hung his head, nervously running a hand through his dark hair. “I lied to you”, he stated softly, “but only because you were being foolish. I am the pilgrim . Believe not what others tell you, you know who I am”. He smiled faintly. “I am king of outcasts, the wanderer in the shadows”. Suddenly without warning, he removed his cloak and folded it neatly on the chair. He slipped the ebony peasant shirt over his head and laid it carefully next to his cloak. On his pale, hairless chest there shimmered two bullet wounds, once skating low over ivory skin scarred by countless battles, brushing stacked ribs, the other just barely missing his heart. The legendary battle had been proven. His dusky eyes smiled in the shadows.
“I am Septimus”.
Posted on 2008-04-08 at 01:48:27.
Edited on 2008-04-08 at 01:48:53 by Septimus Sandalwood
It filled the empty air with a crushing weight, and silence like a thousand piercing weapons occupied the room. She had asked - nay, demanded, and he had obliged and now she stood before the ghost of legend, the flesh of myth, and in her heart, Ben died. she mourned his passing as that of one who believes her heart's desire can never be attained, mourned the passing of a man who never truly existed but merely lived ina stolen life, a lie that blinked and breathed.
She remained, still and silent, her eyes focused on the scars before her, her mind reeling with the weight of revelation. And yet, as she mourned for one who did not exist, she knew the words that fell and accepted. It was not in her nature to embrace denial. something in her grieved for a different reason. Though she knew herself and knew she was unlike any other, the realization that a man like this, who once controlled the seas themselves it was often said, could want little to do with orphans who wandered the lands.
The scars did not disappear; they were not imaginings of a taxed mind, and they did not fade as if a waking dream. she was staring at the chesy of Septimus himself, and she trembled beneath a crushing wave of awe and fear and the knowledge that she must fight for him, no matter what the cost. To allow such a creature to fall into the hands of those who would enslave him or execute him would be a sin. He was the essence of freedom, and gave many inspiration and hope and the tales of his exploits thrilled babes in their beds as their parents storied them to sleep.
"Shaben knows?" she laughed, a low, rolling sound like thunder over velvet. "Of course he does, what am I thinking?"
She tured away, more to clear her head than anything. She brushed her hands over her face and up along the top of her head. with a sigh, she turned back to him and opened her mouth, but words died in her throat.
At last she found her voice and it was colder than she intended.
"What issues we may have now, in light of this.... confession... they can wait. if you want to live, we leave tonight. Take me to Shaben."
Shaben couldn't sleep. He had tossed and turned but he was haunted and couldn't sleep. The memory of his past deeds lay thick on his mind and he could recall them all.
He heard the conversation outside and stepped in. "But all kings have help every now and then don't they Septimus."
Shaben hadn't slept and he looked it and as you observe this man, so much in contrast with the one that claimed out the carriage yesterday he continued. "Evani, you are right. But neither of you have any idea. The government has developed a special solvent, they can track it. All registered ships are coated with it, that is why we must wight for the ship tomorrow."
Wild surmises flitted through his mind like a series of hallucinations, each more believable than the last. He sucked in air sharply through his teeth, awaiting a reaction, a sign. Fear. He dared to meet her shocked gaze, his skin blanched to an almost translucent shade of white. In this half-light he was not so much a man, but an illustration, his sloe-black hair the etching of kohl chalk against fine, fragile paper.
The master of a red dawn.
Ay, vulnerable now, but once he had been adamant. He had studied the marvellous inhumanity of man with an fascination that bordered barely on obsession. He had watched the most cultured and magnificent of animals show themselves things of mindless bestiality. And the blood that resulted from the con of man…
Blood, black blood, insectile in the moonlight, dried like sinister currents in the autumn sunshine. And he had partaken in the slaughter, fierce crimson spread over sharp cheekbones, as he reveled in the kill the marvellous coordination of muscle and sinew, the shocking warmth of fresh flowing blood.
She would not understand what it was to rejoice in the ugliness of man, what it was to see your enemy before you, eyes black with widened pupils, skin wet from the spray of the sea. Everything about him,sacrificial. An ugliness that bordered on beauty. He had bathed in the blood of his foes, soaked himself with their life-force in ecstasy.
He looked into Evani’s eyes and saw a monster.
He flinched at her sharp, icy words, and seemed to become much smaller in size as his head drooped forward and he settled into a resigned position of fatigued defeat. “Ah, so I gathered“, he replied softly, carefully avoiding eye contact. “ You plan to join me, do you?” He smiled faintly. “You are no fool. You know the dangers of joining me. You are planning to risk your life for a criminal? After all, I am no angel. Some people would go so far as to consider me a demon. These people, of course, know nothing of what even the blackest scoundrels had to suffer to make them the monsters they are. “ Sadness shimmered in his eyes, startlingly black in the faint light.
“I was never anything else but, Evani. This is who I was meant to be, this is who I am. “
These words clearly injured him beyond repair as the sensitive, intelligent man admitted as to understand the names he had been called. The flashes of hatred in the eyes of men, fear, the cries of little babes. He was a specter drifting, known and yet unloved. Women feared him, there was no room for love in their hearts for the dark one, who existed only now as one dead. “You showed admiration for a man who you thought had been slaughtered three years ago, and yet, when he stands before you, you show fear. Do not dwell on the irrational fear generated by myth. Fight for me, and I will defend you in return.”
He moved away from her then, swiftly slipping the shirt over his head, effectively covering his scarred upper body. The linen peasant shirt, once a moonless onyx was now lined and faded, hung about his emaciated form like thinning, ancient parchment. He did not look up as Shaben`s tired voice ran clearly through the silence. “And every hero is misguided”, he replied quietly, turning to face his exhausted friend.“Yes, I am aware of this saying”.
“If I stay here tonight, my friend, I risk my very life, but if I do not heed your advice I risk something of even greater meaning”.
He attempted a small smile.
Posted on 2008-04-08 at 21:18:03.
Edited on 2008-04-08 at 21:25:57 by Septimus Sandalwood
Shaben's reply was simple as his face seemed to age by the minute. "No, I have arranged this for tomorrow. If we miss this we will not escape. This is why I didn't want anybody to know."
At that Shaben turned, he was calm and composed in the face of seemly almost death. But he was able to stay in this state because of Septimus' support of him. He knew he had it but it was different hearing it from him. It inspired him to turn and make one more statement. "On the ship I can speak freely and you can ask me anything and I will give you the truth, there is a war to come and we must stay out its way untill the opportune moment."
This last effort he could muster and starved with lack sleep he stumbled back to his room and flopped to sleep on his bed, he didn't even notice the thin ghostly figure standing in the corner, but of cause he was the only one that can.
Though she understood what reasoning he gave, Evani was not pleased. She nodded, and wished her new companion a good night's sleep, thinking to herself that it may be the last any of them get for some time.
And so she was alone with Ben. No, she chided herself, not Ben. Septimus. She sighed heavily as Shaben closed the door and turned to the pirate. He was not, she realized, as frightening as the mythology purported. He was, in point of fact, quite sad looking at the moment.
Evani supposed it was a way things of this nature went; when casting off one life, a life one had lived in for years, to reclaim the dangerous truth of oneself, must be a bit like dying. She wouldn't know what that was like; she was as she had always been, Evaniallaestra of the Crossroads, walker of worlds. A name she had been given by Navalla long ago, before her world burned.
Memories reached for her, tickling the nape of her neck. The High Priestess poured silvery streams of water from a pitcher into large earthen pots, feeding the burgeoning greenery growing within them. As Evani watched, crouching upon a rafter above the holy woman, a song slipped from older lips and the soft sounds swirled around the leaves and blossoms. Some of the plants were browned and the earth dry and cracked, and some looked green and healthy yet smelled like lost causes and sadness. Tendrils of music reached out and carressed each frond, and she looked up into the rafters at Evani, who watched in amazement. Being watched, she felt sheepish and cartwheeled along the beam to the wall, when she grabbed the thick wood and dropped her body. Hanging there for a moment, she grinned at the preiestess and swung herself, flipping twice before landing in a crouch.
"Ah, my young child," the preiestess sighed, "So much energy within you."
"Forgive me, High Priestess Navalla."
"Never appologize for life, my child. Now out with it girl, what troubles those enormous eyes?"
Evani bent herslf backwards and walked on her hands to the darkest, dryest of the plants. Shifting her weight to one hand, she pointed and craned her head to see the High Priestess, "These plants look dead, or nearly so. Why continue to feed and water them? Would energy not be better spent on those who still have a chance?"
But the look in the eyes of her caretaker caused her to straighten herslf and stand, head bowed, as the answer came.
"And had we taken that approach with you, or any of the children left upon our doorstep, how many of you would still be here? This plant, though deadly if it were to touch your lips, is still alive inside. It yearns, as do we all, for room to grow and light to bathe in. It's roots sustain creatures who shiver in the winter cold and scratch at the snow for food. It's blossoms feed the insects and provide the nectar that we use in many of our dishes. Though it may look dead, it is not and it's life affects other in ever expanding ripples, as will you one day."
She gazed at Septimus and wondered if she could like him, even a little, instead of seeing in him the man whose ripple had affected her.
"Stay in this room, if you like. But they are coming for Ben, and they do not know of me. to my thinking, we would be safer in my room where I can keep watch. But if you think things between us too strained now, I understand. But," she said, dropping her voice and casting her gaze to the floor. "...it would afford us an opportunity to get to know each other. The real us, not the us we pretend to be to save our own skins."
Self loathing washed over him in ever-increasing waves. Unpleasant and familiar as an age-old dream, it lingered, leaving a dark bitterness reverberating in the emptiness inside him. Her laugh was spun silver, her eyes were daggers. He gazed at her, eyes hollow, seeming to have shrunk in size as her cruel laugher bit into him. He slunk further away from her, head hanging, dark hair in disarray, enormous eyes wary and wounded, but with no malice. He seemed rather as a dog that had been struck without knowing why. He watched Shaben tramp off to bed, exhausted exasperation fixed clearly on his countenance. Morosely bearing the weight of Evani’s judgmental glance, he waited patiently for the next verbal blow.
The man, who was purported to have once slaughtered thousands, was absolutely terrified of her reaction towards him.
Wearily, he looked past her to the blank bleakness of the wall, listening to the musical tones of her voice, hardly understanding her words. She had to have hated him. But she was offering a solution that would keep them both safe… and allow him to explain the motives behind his disguise.
He winced slightly. “I am sorry”, he whispered brokenly, “but I could not take the chance of revealing my identity, not here, not now. And not so much for myself”. He grimaced. “I care little for my own life, as I have little to live for”. He smiled a ghost of a smile and nodded towards the door. “Only him. I will see myself hung, but I would kill them if they touch him. He risks his very soul to stand by me, and I will do nothing to cause him to regret that decision”.
He paused. “I am a monster”, he murmured. “I know this, and I do not deserve to be sheltered from those who seek me. But I would like to stay with you this night, if only to mend my mistake”. Septimus closed his eyes. Although he had always appeared in storybooks as proud, even arrogant, the truth of the matter was that he loathed himself with a hatred once intense enough to make him want to take his own life.
As he walked down the corridor with her, images of the boy he once had been flickered through his mind like dying candlelight. His lonely, insecure childhood, the contempt of his brothers, the disappointment of his father. He had killed his mother in his coming, and from her death they had not gained much. A small, skinny slip of a boy, with perpetually uncombed dark hair. A boy so shy, visitors to the house would terrify him, and so silent, it was easy to overlook him over the chaos caused by his six brothers. He was nothing. His brothers were strong, his brothers were aggressive, and his brothers were clever. Septimus did not cry as an infant. He did not even speak a word until his fifth year, and even then, communication was difficult for him. He had been a sad, strange little boy, who wrote poetry in the darkness of his room, and cried himself to sleep.
This was the boy who had become the man feared by men and sought by women. The man who had brought kingdoms to their knees. The man who had once ruled the seas. True, the image was splendid, but within his soul he was still that uncommonly gentle, sensitive little boy who had once planted a garden in the yard, before it was found and trampled by his eldest brother, a boy who spent hours staring at the sea, as if by gazing at it long enough, he could become a part of it, and flee from his unhappy life forever. But alas, that part of the story was never told.
It was common knowledge that he had killed his eldest brother at the age of ten. Everybody knew that. But no one knew how tormented he had been, how he had still, at that age believed death to be a temporary state, that he believed in his child’s heart that after his anger passed, his brother would rise again as always. They did not know how he had slept in the alleys of a foreign city, warmed by the bodies of other outcast children that he befriended to survive.
They knew nothing.
He asked for the key to her room, and taking it opened the door. Padding silently into the room, he hesitated, noting that there was only one bed. After an awkward silence he sighed wearily and made his way to the corner. He curled up on the hardwood floor and rested his head upon his arm looking more like a faithful dog than ever. Sadness weighed heavy on his eyelids, but he remained awake, watching her shyly. Finally, he closed his eyes. “Do you know I had a daughter once”, he murmured sleepily. He smiled. “Of course you do, you’ve heard all my stories”.
“She was beautiful”, he whispered,” as the dawn, but somewhere along the way I lost her. My wife, my son, my daughter, all gone”. He sighed. “But they were beautiful, and I loved them. I know I can love, I must have been able to.” He ceased the endearing child-like rambling for a moment and his breathing evened.
“I miss them”, he said sadly.
“I miss them, even after all these years, because, I am human”. The last word of that sentence held a sad sort of declaration, told a story of neglect, of being less than. “I miss them because I can love”.
He smiled wanly into the darkness.
“Even I can love”.
Posted on 2008-04-10 at 21:11:56.
Edited on 2008-04-10 at 21:12:29 by Septimus Sandalwood
His words washed over her in a sea of fire, burning inlets and estruaries into her blood. as she watched him, curling up into the corner like a slender reed, she sighed.
"Take the bed," she offered. I will take the first watch."
She paced, each thout taking her mind in a new direction, and yet she was listening, intently, to the sounds of the room. Love, he said.
In all her life, the many years she wandered in her search for the firestarters and the temple-slayers, she had never fallen in love. She sang of it, of the passions of two hearts locked forever in imortality through the emotional tie, but the words felt foreign to her tongue. Loss, aye, that she knew in spades, loss enough to fell the seas. She did not understand love.
In truth she had never given herself the opportunity. Not to say she did not partake of the plasures flesh afforded; there had been men she had adored, men she admired, even men she desired. She was no saint, she knew that, but while she had been willing now and again to offer her body, she had never once considered, even remotely, giving her heart. That was place of death and grieving.
In her heart, she felt she held those close who had passed. Who had been taken. Who had been slain. The temple attendants and shildren she had grown up with. The friends made later in life who had died in battle or shot dead like dogs in dark streets. She could not imagine letting in someone who was not dead.
And yet she looked at Septimus and wondered why his lies had bothered her so, why the revelation that he was not Ben affected her so deeply.
"Why?" she whispered, taking a seat in the chair. She meant to ask why lie to her, and knew before she asked. She was new, a stranger, and a hunted man doesn't just confess his deepest secret to a stranger. But she didn't feel like a stranger. She looked at him and felt familiar. instead, her words surprised her.
He drowsily opened his eyes, uncomplaining even as his body complained from the numerous uncomfortable situations he had placed it in. Eyes as emerald as an inlet sea gazed at her shyly, apologetically through a curtain of dark hair. He rose, unspeaking, a look of weary gratitude etched across his visage. “Are you not tired”, he inquired hesitantly, carefully avoiding eye contact, sensing her words as either a revelation of mistrust or an act of kindness.
Even as he spoke, he was edging towards the cot, and silently slid between the thick covers, his aching body welcoming the warmth. He sighed contentedly, feeling the edges of his world begin to blur and dim.
“I can watch, you know”, he murmured, his eyes slipping closed.
“If…if you want me to”.
He was almost asleep, lulled by the soft footsteps of her constant pacing, when her voice whispered through the gentle noise of her movements. The potent emotion behind them struck his heart, and he listened, held. His eyes remained closed, for he was sure that his heart would be filled with such self-loathing if he gazed upon her, if he beheld her sadness, his betrayal written in those eyes. So he spoke in his dusky voice as a blind man, calling from some realm of dreams.
“Because I knew you”, he whispered, and felt a curious warmth behind his eyes that he distinctly realised as the forming of tears.
“And you had lost someone, like me”, he added, a sad smile curving upon his lips like charred paper.
“Someone you loved”.
He shifted. “Something in your eyes. You were like me. Like family.”
His words lingered, hanging like a blade, long after his morose voice faded from the air.
He slept, comforted by her mere presence, the mere knowledge that he was not alone. He dreamt, an indistinguishable lump beneath the covers.
At rest, the pirate king was strangely vulnerable. His eyes were closed tightly, long, almost feminine lashes curling upon the pallor of his cheek. His dark hair formed a halo about that melancholy, gaunt face, a Victorian face; dramatically pale, lined with slight etches of care. He had turned onto his side in his night, edging up the hem of his shirt and revealing a broad back laced with whip-scars from his days in prison. The malevolent criminal, was just a man, hardly out of his boyhood, a man shy, soft-spoken still after all those years, a man who could hardly approach a lady.
He tossed ever so often in his sleep, his face hard as if dreaming of worse times. Images flickered through his mind of the boy by the sea, the one who had had so many secrets. He dreamt of the time he had found a coral serpent in the long grass by the beach when his brothers had been on summer holiday, how he had picked the serpent up and found her beautiful. Alone, he held her, drunk with colour and shape, to his breast, watching and learning her movements, her moods. One bite from the creature would have proven deadly to the little boy, but she had never bit him, only wrapped lazily about his thin arms and gazed at him from emotionless eyes.
He held her for over an hour, found that way by his brother Sextus, motionless in the tall grass. The sandy-haired boy had smiled at him, admired the serpent, and asked his little brother questions, only to be regarded by sad and somehow solemn eyes. “Ay, she’s a pretty one”, Sextus had quipped kindly. “We’ll name her Daisy, eh Sep? That suits her, right?” The little boy looked at the snake and then back to the smiling face of his brother. Never uttering a sound, he hugged him fiercely, despite thinking that Daisy was much too common a name. His heart swelled with love for his brother, who understood.
He remembered drawing away from him as his other brothers came tramping up the shore, slick from the ocean. They hollered when they saw the serpent, fear lighting in their eyes. Quickly, Primus, the eldest, darted forward and grabbed the snake off Septimus’ arm, clamping it behind the head to avoid being bitten. “What the hell do you think you’re doing, you little freak”, he hissed, grey eyes flashing. “That ruddy thing is poisonous”.
He threw the serpent down and crushed it beneath his heel. The little dark-haired boy watched the dying throes of his beautiful friend without a word. When Primus drew away, chest heaving, he knelt to pick up the limp, brightly banded body, tears standing in his silent, somber eyes. “Go ahead and cry then”, his eldest brother spat. “Won’t do you any good. “ He watched his little brother critically for a moment, his wordless, soundless grief. “Why don’t you ever talk, then, beast”, he snarled, jabbing him.
“Why don’t you ever talk?”
They had all received a sound beating that night, he remembered grimly.
His life with his family had destroyed any chance of happiness for him. Images of his brother’s bloody face penetrated his mind, strong after all those years. He never forgot how satisfying it had been to bury the dagger in soft, pampered flesh, even as the tears streamed down his face. Images of Lily burned through gruesome dreams, the recollection of his first night with her, of burying his hands into her sloe-black hair. Of gentle love. Of ecstasy. They had raised a daughter together, a daughter as pure as the snow and as bright as the sun. A daughter who sang for her battered father. Who hugged him with the unembarrassed strength of youth, her soft golden head, next to his dark snarled one.
“Do you love”, he had asked.
“Do you love?”
In his sleep Septimus tossed violently, tormented by the images that battered his mind, invaded him with their sweetness and irony. The little broken bodies of his children, lying lifeless in his arms, cold little bodies, the memories of which would haunt him forever.
Giving soul and body to his love, to Lily, soft warm lips whispering vows in his ear. She was cold now. Dead now. His sleeping features were lined with grieving. He cried out as he dreamed the names of those that left before.
“Primus”, he murmured in the mires of sleep, recollecting his brother’s wise, aristocratic face, white on the pillow, red. “Forgive me”.
Lily dancing on their wedding night locked in his arms. Laughing red lips. Smiling black eyes. “Lily, my love”.
A golden daughter, an infant son. “Rose”, he whispered reverently, as if that word contained his entire future, his broken past.
“Do I love”, he asked himself aloud. “I love you, Rose. My beautiful girl, I’m sorry”.
“I’m so sorry”.
He shifted again in his agony and fell out onto the hard wooden floor, waking up instantly as pain flared through his entire body. He shook his head once, twice, his eyes flying open as he chased away the threading shadows. He threw his arms around his knees, shivering. As if instinctively knowing that he had spoken in his sleep, he drew himself into the corner, as far away from Evani as possible, a terrible inescapable question echoing mercilessly in his mind, a caress from a nightmare.
Do you love?
Do you love?
Do you love?
Posted on 2008-04-11 at 21:53:11.
Edited on 2008-04-11 at 22:42:49 by Septimus Sandalwood