WHEW. This one took it out of me to write.
I haven’t edited this sucker, so it’s bound to be a bit rough. I’m sharing it because accountability is good. 😀
This is from NOTTE. Enjoy!
The tower was filled with breaking. Breaking wills, breaking minds, breaking cries. At every turn, every landing, even every stairwell, Saqalu draped and twisted, wings out, faces stretched, and if they were aware of me at all, they told me to run.
I tried. Dammit, I hated feeling human. I was faster, stronger than a human, certainly, but I could no longer go to dust, could no longer quickly heal from wounds – the shards of glass and pottery stuck in me, burrowing deeper, birthing more pain and blood. I left blood in streaks and footsteps all the way down those stairs, shying away from screaming Saqalu, and deeply grateful that the only wood in this place appeared to be the doors.
Had I had wood in me then, robbed of my ability to heal, I would have died. There is no other outcome.
Finally, finally, I reached the bottom floor, but I could not escape. Before the door, his wings outstretched so wide that his bone-blades scraped sparks from the stone walls on either side, stood Adam.
He was completely calm, and that seemed to me more terrible than anything I had yet seen. “You weep,” he said, his voice like silk, like syrup and honey, and his power washed over me and I had no ability to resist it.
I fell to my knees before him, driving shards deeper and uncaring that I did, gazing upon my death with desire and need and the peace that comes from the presence of true beauty.
He did not move. The tips of his wings flexed, bone-blades screeching against the stone. “You should not be here, child of the night.”
Was this conversation? I would tell him anything he wanted. “Yes, I know. But I can’t seem to get out.”
“And what would you do if you left here, child of the night?” His voice grew darker, deeper, warning, threatening, a looming tone.
I had no chance of lies. “I do not know. Horse may know. I would get help.”
His sigh was slow, deep, sorrowful. “There is no help. It is too late for us.”
Something… something about what he said, there was something I should be doing… “Why?” I managed.
Adam’s lips quirked in the tiniest, darkest smile, like the lingering after-effects of light when the sun has already set, like the echo of a bell after it has already rung. His humor still lived. “Good. A good question. Perhaps you are the right messenger for this: they will know that if I have told you, then I was speaking true.”
Was I being insulted? No; everyone knew he did not like me. “Anything you wish,” I gushed.
Oh… oh my friend, it was a terrible laugh.
A shattered laugh, a hysterical laugh, a ruined laugh, a hopeless laugh, and caught in his web I followed him down that terrible mad path and screamed in response.
His instincts still functioned. The Saqalu: driven to protect, driven to comfort. Suddenly, he was around me – wings wrapped, a warm and soft and feathered hug, with that unique scent that accompanies clean feather-oils, with his own spicy incense I have never been able to identify.
He trembled as he held me, as though he were the one who needed saving. “I cannot do this long,” he whispered, hoarse. “Know peace, little one. Know it. I would that I had not withheld it from you before.”
I had known it when I first arrived, my Beast out of control, myself unformed, and then it had seemed a curse. Now, with my world falling apart, without the calming power of Horse’s spell, it was… just peace.
Peace. Internal, external, calming physical reactions to pain and fear, soothing emotional and mental gymnastics, until all of me save my heart sat still.
That moment – that last moment of perfection – lasted four precious seconds.
Adam moved away from me – away from my cry, my reaching hands – and crouched beside the door. “Child of the night, listen to me now: we must leave.”
Leave. That word meant something. Bad.
“Tell Hestur -” Adam’s voice caught, and he paused. “Tell him… we should have seen this coming. Tell him…” He suddenly twisted down and to the side as if stabbed and grabbed at his own wing.
Adam viciously ripped out a handful of glossy, black feathers and threw them at me.
“What?” I managed. His blood – oh, oh how the scent penetrated me until my Beast clawed his way through the spell he’d cast on me with his power and his peace.
“Tell Hestur!” Adam shouted now, baring his teeth. “Tell Hestur…”
He never finished whatever he had to tell me. With a roar, he curled his wings around himself, then snapped them open to hit me with their full power.
I went flying backwards through that door – wood, unfortunately – and some distance into the street. There I lay, crying, until the distance lessened the Saqalu’s effect enough for me to go to dust and finally heal.