Friday, April 9, 2010
“Hey you two, storm is supposed to blow in tonight, you might want to pack it in and come inside for now.” I blinked up at Elethor and turned to see Dark striding across the practice courts a lithe woman in leather gliding silently beside him. Her skin was a dusky amethyst and her outfit showed a lot of it, her hair was long and straight and was back from her face, leaving her horns to curve wicked and severe to frame a lovely, no gorgeous face. Her legs were long and kept stride with the large Gladiator easily. It was plain to see, even from this distance she was both limber and lethal, the two swords crossed at her back marking her out as an assassin if anyone looking at her was too thick to realize it by the way she moved.
She stalked forward with liquid grace and circled me and Elethor, the look in her eyes decidedly unfriendly. She spoke in Asmodian to both Dark and Elethor and they answered her questions both of them a little stiff and uncertain, Elethor’s arms resting lightly about me ready for anything it seemed. She reached out with her clawed fingers at me and I remained steady she touched my hair of all things and the touch was light, she smoothed her claws through it and finally retreated to Dark’s side, leaning into him as she spoke. Both men looked surprised at her actions and as Dark’s large arms encircled the woman drawing her back against his chest Elethor made the introductions.
“This is Dracia,” he said motioning to the woman in Dark’s arms. He then spoke to her and motioned towards me. She gave Elethor a dirty look and made a retort. Dark tightened his arms around her and bowed low over her, laying a kiss against the side of her neck, speaking low and insistent, with his lips hidden by the fall of her hair. She watched me as he spoke, her expression hard and angry but something he said changed her expression. It softened somehow and she looked passed me at Elethor and when she looked back at me she pursed her lips and inclined her head once.
“What just happened?” I asked my lover. He turned me in his embrace to look at him and his eyes held a gentle pain that made my heart wrench in my chest with the desire to smooth that look away. In a flicker the look disappeared and was safely hidden behind the aristocratic mask he had always worn in the time before the cataclysm. Such a familiar look on his new face that the sudden ache in my chest eased and I went up on the tips of my toes to kiss him softly, a quick, almost chaste touch of lips. He smiled as I let myself down and steered me toward the indoors as the first distant peal of thunder rumbled through the atmosphere and the faintest warning of a breeze picked up.
We walked down a long hallway, Dark and Dracia just ahead of us and descended a flight of stairs. As we reached the bottom was when I first heard it. It was the beautiful mournful melody that only a violin could make and it echoed through the stone hallway crashing softly into my wine-soaked senses and carrying me away on a gentle sea of memory…
“Dance with me Sirona.” I looked up at Zenton from my seated position and smiled softly. He never asked for anything our proud friend, he always demanded and my night had not gone well and wasn’t about to get better and it was time for me to make a stand.
“No thank you Zenton.” I said softly, my own brows beginning to knit together as his expression began to cloud over. I was not in the mood to deal with his arrogance. I rubbed gently at the wine stain in the skirt of my dress with a napkin and wished whole heartedly that I had never come to the annual academy ball. Claire and Evensong had both gone off with fine young gentleman and I had been content to sit alone and watch the dancers swirl around the floor. I was awkward and I knew it and so I never danced at these things. I was used to simple dances at festivals with other hard working farm folk. Not to the elegant and poised angelic frippery that paraded passed me here.
Zenton tried again to get me up to dance with him and I snapped at him. His expression went dark as pitch and he stalked off and as my eyes followed his back through the crowd I began to turn red because here came Elethor, perfectly pressed and polished in his fine black suit. I bowed my head and continued scrubbing at the wine spot in the skirt of my dress my frustration blossoming in the form of tears in my eyes. I didn’t know how to dance like them, I didn’t speak like them, all cultured and well educated and I wasn’t bold like Claire who didn’t care what anyone thought. My self-machinations were interrupted with a gentle finger under my chin as Elethor tipped my face up so he could see me. He sighed and knelt before me pulling a handkerchief from his breast pocket and wiping gently at my eyes.
“Zenton do this?” he asked gently. I shook my head and sniffed. “Then what’s wrong?” he asked.
“I don’t know why I became a Daeva Elethor. I’m not like any of you, I’m not rich or smart or graceful.” He stopped me with a finger to my lips.
“Who dumped wine in your lap?” he asked, and I told him. He snorted. “That jackass,” he muttered. “I’ll deal with him later. Did he say why?” he asked then and I nodded.
“I stepped on him.” I whispered. “I embarrassed him, but he dragged me out on the dance floor and I tried to tell him I didn’t know how to dance but he wasn’t going to take no for an answer and then I was out there and I…” he planted his palm across my mouth to shut me up, his blue eyes sparkling with barely suppressed laughter.
“You don’t know how to dance?” he asked. I felt the blush creep up my face, the heat spreading up my neck and across my cheeks all the way up to my hairline and I nodded, humiliated. He straightened and stood, hauling me to my feet. “Then it is time to teach you.”
I tried to protest but wished ardently not to make a scene as he towed me through the tables and chairs to the sweeping expanse of dance floor as the violin began its mournful song. I swallowed my heartbeat back in my chest and stood stiffly as he drew me close, placing his lips beside my ear to murmur to me,
“Relax, good… close your eyes and move with me, good now follow my lead, just like mace practice.”
I closed my eyes and as he stepped back I stepped forward until naturally we just flowed with the rest of the dancers around us, as a raindrop merged with a sea, allowing the current to take us…
When I opened my eyes again the Elethor of now held me close, his eyes gently searching my face as he half smiled and half worried. It was so silent you could hear if a mouse was present and I stepped back a little to look around us. We were in a meeting hall, all of the tables and benches pushed off to the walls, the podium at the back of the stage where several daeva stood with their instruments. Elethor’s Legion circled us, those that had been dancing had stopped to stare and I felt suddenly and acutely exposed… What had I done?
Dark spoke loud and clear, diverting the attention of Elethor’s legion who wore a mix of expressions ranging from curiosity, to shock and some even further down the line with an open seething hatred. Elethor put his lips against my ear and spoke low and fast, translating what Dark was saying.
“I believe Dark is correct, he is telling them that you have obviously had too much wine and when we reached the bottom of the stair and you heard the music you were simply entranced…” nervous laughter twittered through the gathering in the room, “he said that Elysian music must be awful and if your reaction is anything to go by perhaps we should play our songs at the next fortress siege if we wish to succeed.” I bowed my head and bit my lip, my chest tightening with fear as the silence thickened and cooled.
I was just about to let out the breath I’d been holding, grateful that it was okay when the calm shattered as someone’s rage boiled over. It started with a deafening crack as the butt of a staff connected with the stone floor; a woman’s voice rang out clear and strong in a single word of power unknown to me. Elethor’s arms opened, releasing me and he shoved me behind him turning and taking the blow intended for me square in the chest. I was knocked to the floor with him, his legion all stepping back towards the walls, creating a ring around us. Elethor lay stunned; the wind knocked out of him, the woman responsible for the blow standing over us screaming, eyes blazing with fury. I crawled toward Elethor, panic rising in my throat, tears borne of fear slipping from my lashes I started my prayer hands glowing and covered the painful wound in his upper shoulder and chest with light and released the healing energy into his body…
It did nothing. I sobbed panic rising in my chest and tried again reciting the prayer perfectly and released the healing light into his body but again nothing happened. Strong hands gripped my upper arms and tried to pull me back but I shouted and tried yet again to heal the injury… to no avail. Finally the hands gripped down with no argument and pulled me backwards I struggled against their grip to get back to his side even as one of his legion’s clerics approached and did what I could not. Elethor sat up the look on his face bitter and angry, his eyes aglow with the fierce light of his power and he rounded on the woman, her staff out and ready to do battle…
Posted by A.J. Downey at 10:36 PM