Break Open the Massive Dark

Editor's PickBreak Open the Massive Dark
by Thevina

Story Notes

Author email: thevina33@gmail.com

Spoilers: Shades of Time and Memory

Canon Characters: Aleeme, Azriel, Cobweb, Moon, Vaysh, Cal (all others original characters)

Summary:

Now language escape, fugitive of forgiveness
Leaving as trace only circles of rust
– “Drought,” Vienna Teng

There are many casualties in the second assault on Ponclast that happens in The Shades of Time and Memory. This is a possible telling of Aleeme and Azriel’s story after their liberation from Fulminir.

Author’s Notes: Firstly, my huge thanks to my two betas, Elfscribe and Wendy. You have both helped tremendously in making this story as polished as it is— and thanks for pushing me to write Cal! Hopefully there aren’t any mistakes, but if any remain, they’re mine. My gratitude also to Persephone for being an advance reader and for sharing your enthusiasm and thoughts. One of my original characters makes reference to a Chickasaw legend; I found the story here initially.

Break Open the Massive Dark

Drifting into wakefulness felt like slowly rising to the surface from the bottom of a lake. Aleeme suddenly thrashed around, terrified that there was ice above him; he was trapped, he couldn’t breathe— he would drown if he opened his mouth to take a breath and his limbs were so heavy. He began to sink again, letting out a strangled cry despite the panic of expecting a rush of icy water to fill his lungs. He pulled in a deep breath of air, hearing an awful rattling sound that, with a shock, he realized was his own hoarse throat. There was a sound of canvas flapping, somehar muttering under his breath, approaching Aleeme at speed while with agonizing effort he forced his eyes open. He couldn’t even speak, he just gaped, fish-like, his mouth opening and closing as he struggled to figure out where the hell he was, why he was lying down, the source of the glowing soft light. Something horrific had happened; it lurked patiently in Aleeme’s mind, off to the side like something glimpsed in his peripheral vision, uncertain and shadowy. Whatever it was, it was really, really bad.

“Aleeme. Please look at me.”

The har’s voice was steady, but Aleeme could hear the worry in his tone, betraying his calm demeanor. With tremendous will, Aleeme turned his head to gaze heavy-lidded at the har standing at his bedside, clad in healer’s robes. He had porcelain skin and cat-like eyes that slanted slightly upward. He seemed to be struggling with emotions that he managed to keep in check, reaching down to brush some of Aleeme’s hair that had instinctively waved feebly toward him.

“Please don’t try to sit up or move around,” the healer said kindly. “You’ve done very well, but you’ll still be with us for quite some time. You’re safe now.” He held his hands suspended above Aleeme’s body, walking slowly around him, his lips moving silently.

Aleeme felt a soothing warmth in his torso when the healer passed over that area, but the sensation stopped as the har traversed above his pelvis, down his legs and up again. Not until he was above his stomach did Aleeme sense the heat and strange feeling that his blood was singing, responding to whatever energies the healer was channeling toward him. He tried to move his legs, managing only to wriggle his toes a little bit and feel a terrible ache in his inner thighs.

“What happened?” he asked the healer who had pulled up a chair and slipped his hands under the warm blankets to knead at his thigh.

The touch was professional, not at all erotic, but just as the exotic har opened his mouth to reply, Aleeme was assaulted by a memory of somehar else’s fingers gripping his shoulders in a bruising hold, a battering ram of an ouana-lim slamming into him over and over as he screamed and tried to escape, only to be hit in the jaw by a hideous-looking creature—

“NO!” he shouted, shaking with the abject terror, powerless to escape as his innermost chamber was wrenched open. “YOU FUCKING BASTARD!”

Aleeme swung with his fists, screaming and screaming, trying to kick, snapping with his teeth when he felt warm hands trying to pin him down.

“AZRIEL!” he sobbed, struggling against his would-be captors like a wild thing. There was a stinging in his left thigh and an icy sensation; hara with expressions of anxiety and concern came into his line of vision as he pulled against restraints they’d managed to attach to his wrists.

“Azriel!” he choked out of a raw throat, resisting the soothing waves of energy that radiated toward him. It was a trick— Ponclast had moved him, was going to do unspeakable things to him; Aleeme was too weak to fight it. He cried, the bitter, angry tears burning his eyes as he thought about another harling starting life in him, another harling created in hate.

“Just kill me!” Aleeme raged, though his mind was getting fuzzy. “I’ll die before this harling is born!” he yelled, gasping for breath. He began to feel as though his body had been filled with heavy cotton, becoming still even as he continued to struggle against whatever drug had been injected in him.

“Aleeme, you’re safe,” a voice said to his right; he sounded like he was trying to convince himself of that. “You’re with the best healers there are. Please believe me.”

Aleeme tried to spit at him, but his body no longer wanted to cooperate and instead he succeeded only in flinging spittle on his pillow. “You’re with him,” he moaned. “It’s a trick. Azriel…” The word tasted like blood. He wheezed pitifully, clawing at consciousness, desperate to stay awake. “Ulau…”

The world went black.

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Gold Digger

Gold Digger
by Lusa

Story Notes
Author’s Email: rhapsodyingreen@cox.net

Web page: http://www.geocities.com/lusa_thul/ecrirehome.html

Pairings: Caeru/Pellaz

Rating: Pg-13

Summary: Rue makes the decision to bring his son to Immanion.

Spoilers: Just for the end of Bewitchments, which I assume you’ve finished if you’re reading fan fiction.

Gold Digger

I’ve read the article a dozen times now, sitting here in the dark, but I still don’t really know my own reaction to it. Kate found it printed in the local paper, usually nothing more than a jumble of Ferelithia gossip but tonight containing something more interesting. The Gelaming have a new Tigron – I guess that’s supposed to mean king. Nice ring to it. His name is Pellaz.

Maybe I should have put that together when I met him, but I’m not very good at that sort of thing – case in point; how long it took me to realize I was with pearl. He was so beautiful he could only have had some sort of great destiny. You don’t have that air of confident command for no reason. He was just special; one look made that obvious. Like some sort of god or angel who blessed me with a single night of attention and magic before being lifted off into heaven once more.

I thought that was the end of it. I missed him, and even before I realized what had happened I felt like he had changed my life in some way. Like I had a brush with something great and nothing, not even time, could ever take that memory away from me. I don’t know if its normal to fall in love with someone after such a short time, to only have one night together but know you want it to be forever. It sounds like the sort of thing that only works out in fairy tales, not real life. It didn’t work out for me, after all.

It’s almost embarrassing how long it took me to figure out I was carrying a pearl. I thought I was just getting sick, gaining weight, a thousand other excuses. Maybe I knew and just didn’t want to face it. Eventually there just was no way to lie to myself anymore. Kate admitted she knew and we had a fight before she stormed out.

I remember the second that door shut behind her, I just lost it. All that anger I’d been able to hold onto when facing her vanished in a second. I probably spent hours just curled up sobbing, because how else was I supposed to react? I’ll admit to being scared. A part of it was that I used to be male, and this idea of giving birth was just so alien. Most of it, though, was just worry I’d screw up. I didn’t know how to raise a child, I wasn’t ready for this. It’s something that is so terrifyingly easy to mess up and all I could think about were the thousand ways it could go wrong.

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Down the Whispering Well

Down the Whispering Well
by Thevina

Story Notes

Editor\'s PickAuthor’s Notes: This is a sequel to Maelstrom and Mage, Desire Thine Darkling. Several of the original characters from that are prominent in this, as well as my concept of how Vaysh died the first time. Toward the end there are a few direct quotes from Enchantments; it would have seemed quite odd to ignore those pivotal scenes but I didn’t wish for it to be a retelling, word for word, of familiar scenes but from Vaysh’s POV. Storm wrote them eloquently already; this is only a different lens through which to see those scenes.

Novella summary: Being brought back from the dead doesn’t mean happily ever after, especially if you’re Vaysh. Life has its costs, and he pays dearly. An exploration of Vaysh’s character in the years before and through Pellaz’s transformation, and the burdens he endures, because he must.

Author website: http://www.thrihyrne.net

Author email: thevina33@gmail.com

Disclaimer: Ashmael, Vaysh, and the harish world all belong to Storm Constantine; I’m merely playing with great abandon in her sandbox.

Pairings: Vaysh/Ashmael (historic); Vaysh/Velaxis, Vaysh/OC

Rating: NC-17 (rooning, drug use, angst, off-screen character death)

Spoilers: Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit

Down the Whispering Well

Succor my skin, beloved,
in sizzling drops of musky happenstance.
Lick gauzy flames, sear my bones,
Bathe me in fecund tears of myrrh and exaultation—
gnaw, ravenous, on my transmogrified soul.

I’ll dance with you, my firebrand,
Down the whispering well.

There, enrapt, we libertines
Will sing the stars indivisible, you and I,
suckling on voracious delight.

My heart, my drum—
Immortal, beat in me the tattoo of forever.

The air was different that day. Unseen wings beat a thrill of anticipation into the usual stillness; the wind-chimes tintinnabulated in silvery agitation. I was lifted from my cocoon, held up for the duration of the short walk to the bath. I couldn’t stand unaided, my legs had transformed from slender but muscled to white spindles. I grimaced as I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, though my heart seized with anguished joy each time I was able to do so. I had died. I knew it. My brain hadn’t surrendered the memory of the excruciating pain of the branch as it had crushed me, my sight and feeling seeping away, of Ashmael’s voice, so wild and full of hurt…

I let the warm tears spill over, as they always did, now that I’d recovered enough for these new eyes to work. I was here, and not-here; the silent, efficient hara kept me drugged after my initial screams of agony had been too much for them and my other keeper to bear. Thiede would bring order to this impossibility. He would come in with a serving-tray of coral, he would drape an amulet around my neck, a chambered nautilus like my hollowed soul and he would breathe life into this husk, this miraculous aberration, my somatic re-creation.

“Why?” I asked the unspeaking hara through my tears, but they didn’t pause. They bathed my weak body, rubbing my near-useless limbs with oil before artfully arranging my hair with ribbons of white, and tiny opalescent beads. I begged for more drugs, for anything to slow the panicked tattoo which threatened to overwhelm my re-made heart. Pity me, for God’s sake, the Aghama’s sake, pity…?

A quicksilver slide of the needle and my breath no longer thundered in my lungs like a thoroughbred racing across a field. Perhaps Tassia could bear me away…

I was an abomination, and yet, as I drifted into the languid haze of disembodied thought, I couldn’t help but love myself and the demiurge who had made me again. Head lolling, I peered dazedly at my arm— tears meandered down my face at the sight of flawless, pale skin. No inception scar marred my forearm; no vibrant braid of ink to boldly proclaim my love for my chesnari remained. Apparently the voice of all physical flaws was to have been silenced. This body, this mute skin, this was Thiede’s doing.

Did I captivate him only when voiceless?

Soft footsteps padded through the open doorway. He stood at the end of the bed, his palms pressed together, his long, steepled fingers pressed against his cheek. With his head tilted as it was, he looked for an instant like a child about to say his prayers. His eyes— a thousand sunlit mornings glowed there; I flinched under the shimmering, proud lanterns that shone in his face.

“You shall be above all others,” he promised, approaching me with the lethal, captivating grace of a lynx. There was no softness in his tone; the words rang in the air, a regal pronouncement. I was brushed with the scent of saffron dawn as attendants removed his clothes and I was laid bare for him.

“Thank you,” I croaked, my voice an elegy in dust. I was un-dead. I was moulded clay. I lifted my eyes as his lips hovered above mine, the faint scent of his breath enough to kindle an explosion of sparks in my groin.

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Hidden Secrets

Hidden Secrets
By Camile Sinensis

Story Notes

Two separate stories, because the first one was too emo (apparently!)

Characters: Velaxis and Caeru

Spoilers: nothing noticeable

Summary: Caeru reveals some secrets…

Author email: teapot@doramail.com

Websites: http://red-shellac.livejournal.com, http://www.mudsharks.org/stuff/

Hidden Secret 1

Standing on the edge of the balcony. Looking down. Dusk falling over the city; the amber lights twinkle welcomingly, and beyond, the sea fading to purple and black. In other circumstances, it could have been beautiful.

A slight sound from the other side of the balcony alerts him to the presence of another har. He knows it was deliberate. This creature moves through the corridors of Phaonica like a ghost. His long white hair and floating, gauzy garments complete the illusion. Perhaps he does not exist at all.

“You sent for me, Tigrina”.

Now he exists.

Caeru sighs and turns away from the deepening gloom and the flickering loveliness of Immanion at night.

I summoned you, and you came. As you always do.

Caeru walks past him, saying nothing, failing to make eye contact. The other har waits until he is exactly two paces beyond him, then follows behind. They move like dance partners through the rooms of the Tigrina’s apartments; elegant rooms, tastefully furnished. Silent. Empty.

Into the bedroom. The walls are red, the colour of passion, as if that emotion could be conjoured by shade and hue alone. The bed is large and carefully made up. Silk tasseled pillows are piled at one end, and curtains surround it which can be discretely drawn if necessary. The lighting is low.

Caeru stands by the bed and finally looks at the other har’s face.

Too perfect, he thinks.

No flaws or imperfections. None of the small, individual quirks which reveal a person’s thoughts or intentions. Blue eyes, darker than his own, study him carefully. This har is unknowable, but Caeru knows him, just a little. He trusts him, just a little.

Velaxis moves closer and takes the Tigrina’s face in his hands. He pulls Caeru towards him and they share breath. A symphony of aching desire resonates through Caeru’s entire body. It is only magic. Velaxis can raise angels or demons within another har’s flesh as easily as most can breathe, but for Caeru it is like water at the end of a parched desert, and he responds fiercely, pulling the other har deeper into the kiss, drinking his mouth and his breath.

He trusts him. A little.

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Hope Like Mist

Hope Like Mist
by Ruby

Notes

Disclaimer: This short story is inspired by the Wraeththu books of Storm Constantine. The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit, The Bewitchments of Love and Hate, The Fulfilments of Fate and Desire and all characters named in those books are the copyright of Storm Constantine and her publishers. No infringement on the copyrights are intended.

Spoilers: The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit
Author: Ruby: rubyrohvale@mailpride.com

Hope Like Mist

In my previous life, I earned my living singing songs that other people
wrote. While so very much has changed in some respects, nothing has changed
there. My life has become a song that someone else wrote and I’m employed to
sing. I get up on a stage and I put on an act, all the while, moving to
words and music not mine. Perhaps I should try my hand at song-writing. My
grandmother used to sing a lot when I was very young. She had a wonderful
voice, as did my mother, and I was lucky enough to inherit that talent. One
of my grandmother’s favorites was an old song called “Tea For Two.” Perhaps
I could change it around a little and call it “Toy For Two.” Does that sound
bitter? Perhaps…

If I could walk out on all of this tomorrow, would I do it? The simple
answer is no. Not because of all I have in the way of material things,
though they are nice and help make this hellish existence bearable. I would
stay because of what I don’t have. There’s an old adage that goes, “Where
there’s life, there’s hope”, and I do have hope – futile as it may prove.

I know he hated me because he thought I was nothing more than a gold-digger,
showing up when I did, trailing our son. But he was very wrong in that. I
didn’t know what he was, I didn’t know that Thiede had only recently decided
he ought to be blood-bonded with a suitable someone. Of course, the timing
of my arrival couldn’t have been worse. It made me look like the gold-digger
he accused me of being, and it put me right in the line of Thiede’s sights.
Was it Fate? I’m sure Thiede wouldn’t like to think so. He’d hate the idea
that there was someone or something more powerful than his godlike self
guiding our movements.

If it was Thiede’s hand guiding events, why did he choose me? I think I know
the answer to that. It wasn’t because I was weak-willed and compliant – when
I arrived here, I was neither of those things. He chose me because he knew I
loved Pell and that I would continue to hold, deep within me, some hope for
that love, no matter that his Tigron hated the sight of me and wanted
nothing to do with me. Am I tenacious or stupid?

Of course, Pell’s opinion of me was shared by many of his cronies. Pell
encouraged this view, and those sycophants who wanted to win his favor
attempted to do so by adopting his stance in relation to me. This view of me
as a greedy, vain, gold-digger continues to be held in some quarters to this
day. They like to think I’m shallow and vapid, concerned with little else
than my own reflection. It’s easy enough to play that part. Better to have
their scorn than their pity.

Contrary to the popular perception of me, I do think. And I think a lot
about Ferelithia and what happened there. I think about Pell and wonder how
he perceived me during our brief time together all those years ago. He knew
what he was, he knew why he was coming to Immanion, yet he chose me. Would
he have done that if he’d thought I was an opportunist who’d come chasing
after him as soon as I learned the truth? And how long did he think that
truth could be kept secret? He was to be a figurehead – a very public
figurehead. His face and his name would become renowned throughout the land.
He must have known I’d discover the truth eventually, or did he hope that
news of the Tigron and his identity would never reach Ferelithia? Vain hope!

So I return, over and over, to the puzzling question of why? Why did he do
as he did? Since arriving here, I’ve learned more about Pell’s history, and
I’ve discovered that he hadn’t been lying when he’d told me his body was
“virgin” for me. So perhaps, having survived all he had, and having not
shared aruna with anyone for so long, he was overcome by his own needs and
desires – which would explain the act, but not the resultant child. He went
ahead and did what he did – knowing all he did. That wasn’t rushed, that
wasn’t unbridled lust. There was intent – on his part at least.

Conception is a conscious act. Pell knew what was required, and proceeded to
do it. Why? Had I indicated to him that I’d wanted more than a night
together, that I’d wanted a permanent reminder of what we’d shared?
Definitely not! A child was the last thing on my mind. I certainly didn’t
ask to be impregnated then hastily deserted and left to raise our child on
my own.

What was he thinking? There’s that question again – that question which has
never left my mind since the fateful day when the reality of what he’d done
first made itself evident to me; that question which became even more
important after we arrived here only to be subjected to a disgraceful
reception and his poisonous vitriol. Over time, the terrible truth has
revealed itself to me. In Ferelithia, he hadn’t thought at all. He did as he
did, knowing he could fall back on the old excuse that it was all part of
Thiede’s plan. Whether he is right in that is yet to become clear. But no
matter whose doing it was, from my point of view what happened in Ferelithia
that night was a violation

Kate says it’s typical of male behavior, to recklessly do as they will
without thought to consequence, then squeal like a stuck pig when events
turn around and bite them in the arse. I think she forgets that I was once a
young man myself. Therefore I know that, her blunt phraseology aside, what
she says does go some way to explaining Pell’s actions. But there’s nothing
of comfort in it.

In my more spiteful moments, I nurture the hope that Thiede had no hand in
events. I take shameful delight in the thought that it was all Pell’s own
doing, and that the web he began spinning in far off Ferelithia only served
to entrap him, leaving him unable to do more than bemoan his fate, and
regret that his impulsive behavior has seen him bonded to me for life.
Naturally, there’s little of joy in this situation for me, either, but that
would be so no matter whose will moved events. However, despite all his
misgivings, Pell doesn’t regret Abrimel, and for that I am eternally
thankful.

During those hours following our arrival here in Immanion, when we were
spirited away to be hidden like a shameful secret, my head was spinning and
my mind was in turmoil. But I did manage to drag some coherent thoughts out
of the uproar swirling in my head. Those thoughts were of Pell. Was this
being done on his orders? If so, why? Did he now think he had made a
terrible miscalculation in Ferelithia, that he had misjudged me so
completely? I wanted to see him desperately, so I could explain things
weren’t as they appeared to be. But then he came, and I was the one left
wondering about miscalculations, and my own sense of judgement. This was not
the har I knew in Ferelithia. He was deranged by fury, and said such hateful
things. How did he dare it? If anyone had the right to rant like a maniac
and fling accusations about, it was me. But I didn’t do that, I couldn’t do
that. I was shattered by his reaction to my presence, and could nothing but
cower under the avalanche of his rage. He was…but no, I don’t want to recall
that time, nor the effects of that first glimpse of his sire on Abrimel. Nor
will I dwell on the time and effort that went into soothing my son and
convincing him his father was not the monster he had given every appearance
of being during that first encounter – although it was difficult trying to
explain something even I didn’t understand. But somehow our independent
efforts – Pell’s and mine – saw the relationship between father and son
patched and they remain on amiable terms to this day.

I don’t hate Pell, although to do so would make my life easier. I hate some
of the things he’s done, and I hate the way he behaves sometimes, but deep
inside I maintain a hope – a foolish, inane hope – that, one day, through
perseverance and sheer tenacity, I will find myself face to face once more
with the har I met and loved in Ferelithia.

But in my more lucid moments I know I might as well try to grasp and hold
the early morning mist.

The End

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