Monday, December 10, 2018

The Shalafae Archives - Returning

A very long one, told from two perspectives. I should rewrite the fight scene between Morri and Revkah; I think I have it somewhere, but I can't remember where. On the to-do list, I guess.

***

He stared out the window, and the entire desert seemed to spread before him. His tower loomed over pale sands, dominating the sky. There was nothing else around for hundreds of leagues; even the oasis were few and far between. Kyra called it his lonely tower.

Lord Shalafae could sense everything from here. He was aware of the impending storm, of the sand worms lazily cruising by, of the caravan at the edge of his domain, and the bandits who would strike them by morning.

Most of all, he felt his daughter speeding here.


What do I do? he asked himself. He tightened a hand around the opposite wrist, worry knotting his heart. Emotions threatened to overwhelm, and he focused on the desert to calm himself. An ancient worm responded to Shalafae's silent call, approaching the tower.

"Revkah has fallen." Kyra's voice was soft, restrained, as she stepped through the aether. Her presence was warm against his aura, and he turned to face her. His sister wore a simple dress, her hair loose to her ankles. Only the extra gleam in her eyes betrayed her sorrow.

He sighed, stepping away from the balcony into the empty room. Candles flared to life as Chaos responded to his will. The room was suddenly furnished. A fire roared in the hearth, and Kyra settled on the divan he provided. Shalafae noted she didn't lounge on it, but remained sitting ramrod straight. 
"I know," was all he said as he took a wing backed chair. He trembled, becoming aware of his sister's hidden grief.

"I saw it. I watched them fight." Kyra stared into the flames. "Revkah knew she would lose."

Exasperation wrung a sigh from him, despite his control. "Foolish woman. I warned her from this course."

"She sacrificed herself for you." His sister's voice was still distant.

"And she should have known better!" he shouted, launching himself from the chair. He was furious at his chief assassin for wasting her life. Self-sacrifice was expected from his troops; rationality and the will to survive from his inner circle.

Shalafae ground his teeth, bootheels thumping on the thick rug. Things had been going well, even if Morrigana's rebellion was a tad excessive. The girl had destroyed nothing irreplaceable, had done nothing he couldn't recover from. He would have rounded the dragon up when she was ready to come home.

But Revkah had thrown his whole plan off. Morrigana was racing to his tower before she'd raged herself out.

And Revkah was gone forever.

"She did it to help you," Kyra snapped, returning her attention to the albino lord. "I watched the fight in my mirror. Revkah taunted her into eating her heart."

Anger surged. "Morrigana wasn't ready to consume another soul. She'll be imbalanced, fighting Revkah's persona."

"That's why she did it." Kyra rose to her feet, stepped in front of him. "To keep the girl off-balance. To give you a handhold to put her back to heel."

Staring into her blue eyes, he was able to push his anger aside. "She was still foolish to do so."

Kyra laid a hand over his heart. "And now the child wings here. What would you do?"

"Confront her."

She stiffened. "While she's enraged?"

Listening to his heart, Shalafae knew his daughter was close. She would be here soon, full of blood and hate, seeking his soul. Now that Morrigana knew how to destroy him, she would surely try. "There's no better time. I've toyed with her enough."

Worry radiated from his little sister, yet the only outward sign was a tightening of her lips. "Should I wait with you?"

He shook his head, preparing himself for the encounter. The storm howled as it broke, reflecting his inner turmoil. "Take the twins. Go to the island."

Kyra narrowed her eyes. "What about Rae?"

"Keep them away from each other." He stepped toward the balcony. "Rae's dangerous enough without seeing the twins, but those wards will keep you all safe."

"Do you expect this to go badly?" Kyra approached, her warmth gentle against his shields.

What do I expect? Morrigana's full of blood and another's soul. She's rational enough to come here, but can she be reasoned with? Shalafae flexed his hand, and Stormbringer appeared at his side, murmuring, hungry for battle.

"Your sword," she whispered.

Shalafae didn't turn, didn't take up the black blade. "Take them with you."

"But you'll be..." He voice trailed off.

Defenseless. Shalafae knew what she was going to say. Neither of them voiced it. "If they're not here, I can't use them."

The blond woman came forward, claiming the Chaos blade. It growled from its sheath, not wanting Kyra. It only wanted Shalafae, and to fight for him.

She'll still have her swords. They know me, but they won't spare me. Kyra is aware of this. His sister laid a hand on his back, but he kept his eyes on the tumultuous sky outside. He needed to be focused.

"Be safe." Kyra rubbed his back, then stepped through the aether to fetch the twins.

The howling of the storm escalated as Morrigana arrived on the planet. She was no more than a mile away, eerily accurate for someone who'd never been here. Keeping his shoulders straight, Shalafae dismissed most of the furniture in the room.

"Come, Daughter. Let's see how this ends." Turning from the window, he resumed his seat in the wing backed chair. He faced the window, the fireplace crackling cheerily, and awaited the half-dragon's assault.

***

Morrigana screamed as she appeared on the planet. Aether travel was new to her, different than teleportation. She didn't know where her father was, but Revkah did. The red-headed assassin's memories kept surging forth, disturbing the hybrid woman.

Her stomach roiled, and she collapsed to the sand. The storm echoed her second scream, throwing grit in her face, tearing at her wings. What has he done? Why would he do this? Morrigana fought for control, unfamiliar awarenesses tugging at her thoughts. She knew these sands and smells, knew the touch of these storms, yet she'd never been here.

He didn't warn you. The thought wasn't hers, whispered in a dead woman's voice. Morrigana had barely known Revkah, but she knew the assassin very well now. The Sidhehan woman dwelt in her skull, taunting her, pestering Morri, egging her on.

"You're dead, you're dead, you're dead," the young woman shouted, hunched beneath the buffeting winds. "You're not real. I killed you. I ate you. You're gone."

No. You took me into you. We're together now. Forever.

Cupping her wings, Morrigana let the wind pull her to her feet. She screamed defiance, clutching her swords' hilts. "No! I am my own woman. No one owns me." Eyeing Shalafae's tower, she growled. "And I'll show him."

The hybrid's anger kept taunting voices at bay, leaving her alone in her skull. For now. Growling, she winged toward the tower, intent on her prey.

Sand hissed beneath her, and the aroma of spice enveloped her. Morrigana looked down as an enormous maw blossomed beneath her, pink flesh and razor teeth gleaming in the storm. Ill-gained knowledge let her know it was a sand worm, a monster of the dunes.

"It dies like everything else." Then the maw closed around her. Spiked teeth drove into her flesh, but were repulsed by her armor. The hybrid laughed at the pain, relishing the way her blood spilled. There was barely room for her to draw her sword, but she managed. DragonSoul sang as she plunged it into the soft flesh of the sand worm.

Hot blood gushed, searing her skin, filling her nostrils with the scent of burnt spices. Morri laughed, clawing and tearing at the worm as it died, her sword filling her with energy. For good measure, she stabbed DragonTears deep into the beast as well.

Life force surged through her nerves, filling her with endorphins. His pets can't stop me, she said to Revkah's voice. The spirit had nothing to say, and left her alone as Morrigana began tearing her way free. The worm died as she emerged on the sand.

"You can't stop me!" she screamed up at the tower. "I will get you." The wind gusted, drying the blood on her skin and armor, driving sand into her wounds. Her hair danced, feasting on her blood along with the blood of the beast. Hissing, she flexed her wings.

And was unable to take flight. Patagia hung in ribbons, and several wing fingers were broken. Pain brought awareness to her, and she staggered. Rather than heal, Morrigana dismissed her wings. Rational thought wasn't with her tonight.

The storm danced across her nerves as she shifted, causing her to shiver from head to tow. You couldn't have this without him.

"You're persistent, I'll give you that," Morrigana growled, stalking across the sand to the tower. "Did he really think you could stop me?"

The older assassin slipped away, burying deeper into Morrigana's subconscious. A vague memory came forth of Shalafae ordering Revkah to stop the girl. The half-dragon growled, fists clenched.
"Fool! No one can stop me. No one is better than me. I will destroy you." Her voice was lost in the wind. Revkah remained quiet.

Hair whipping in the wind, Morrigana circled the tower, searching for an entrance. There was nothing but smooth marble, the red veins on black her father preferred. The stone incensed her; too many times she'd seen it up close as Shalafae had his way with her.

Above her gleamed a single light. A hundred feet above, a quick flight. She used inate Chaos magic to shift forms, to bring her wings back out. A leap and a strong pump, and she was airborne.

A gust of wind slammed her into the wall. Breath was driven from her lungs, stars danced before her eyes. Groaning, Morrigana began sliding back to the ground. Instincts took over, and she dug talons into the stone.

Dismissing her wings again, the hybird focused on steadying her breathing. Subconsciously remembering her father made all his lairs of subjugated Chaos had saved her from a fall. She could command the magic, and did so now to form a ladder to the balcony above. The wind constantly pulled at her, trying to rip her from the wall. Her arms trembled by the time she crawled over the balcony railing.

She crouched in the middle of the balcony, tail lashing, and hissed at the figure awaiting her.

Shalafae sat in a wing back chair. He was always in wing back chairs. Even Revkah recalled that. He wore a simple black outfit, legs crossed at the knee, hair held back by a plain silver circlet. His crimson eyes were narrowed, and the fire lit his face.

"You might as well come in," he said.

His voice irritated her. His face irritated her. The calm way he sat, just watching, irritated her. Growling, she reached for her swords, and realized she'd left them behind. Can't go back. He'll be prepared.

He's prepared now. The dead assassin had served Shalafae for aeons. She knew the lord had staged this, could have struck at Morrigana at any time.

Taking a deep breath, the hybrid rose to her full seven foot height. Stiletto heels clicked on the marble, and sand whispered around her as her hair shed itself of dirt. "You look ready," she murmured.

"Ready for what, Daughter?"

Her lip curled, but she fought back a hiss. The possessive way he claimed their relationship offended her. A tiny part wanted it to be untrue, but Revkah had been at the negotiations, had seen the seduction of Leyisha, had seen the hatching. Morrigana was the Shalafae's spawn.

"Ready for your destruction." Her tail lashed once as she started to charge.

"Wait," he said, holding up a single hand. Centuries of training had ingrained obedience into the young woman. She froze in place, only to snarl when she realized what was happening. "At least talk to me before I die."

She frowned. "What?"

He gestured, and another chair appeared opposite him. "I am ready for your assault. I know you want me dead. Have a conversation with me before you turn this room to a slaughterhouse. We can be civilized about this, can't we?"

"Civilized?" she snarled. "The man who raped me daily, who tortured and punished me, who threatened to cut off my wings wants to be civilized?" Morrigana took the seat anyway, tail lashing around her ankles.

"One cannot create a masterpiece without pain and suffering."

Claws dug into the arms of her chair. "What pain and suffering did you ever go through?"

"My heart ached every time you cried." Crimson eyes darted to the fire, then back to her.

"It must have been agony those first few years." Sarcasm dripped from her words, and she relaxed her grip on the chair. The specter of Revkah remained still, kept at bay by Morrigana's focus on her sire.

"Indeed." He clasped his hands in his lap. "Those were trying times for us both."

"Is there doubt you deserve death?" Sitting and talking immediately restored balance to her. Rational behavior was possible, and her lust for murder waited for action.

"You were created to kill. You are brilliant at it." Shalafae smiled proudly. "And you've surpassed every hope and expectation. I wanted a perfect killer, and you've become my magnus opus."

"Flattery won't stop your demise."

"I don't intend it to."

"Then why all this talk?" Her voice rose to a snarl, her lips pulled back from her teeth.

"Because I would like to get to know my daughter before she kills me."

Morrigana laughed long and hard. "You are a miserable liar."

"No lies. You've been wreaking havoc in ways I never imagined. You're so much more than intended, and I would like the honor of knowing this aspect of you."

"That's too bad," she said, rising. "Because you don't deserve to know me." Morrigana stalked toward her father. "You wanted a weapon, so all you get is your weapon."

"So be it," Shalafae said, lifting his head. His collar shifted, exposing his throat. The half-dragon lifted claws, growling to herself at his imminent death.

She slashed, and vertigo slammed into her. "Damn you," she growled, struggling through her father's attack.

"Of course, Daughter. I just thought you'd prefer to take my life somewhere more appropriate."

Reality solidified around them, revealing a bed room. His bedroom, with the bed he'd had her on for years. Rage stirred at the sight, and she lunged at his sprawled figure. She straddled him, claws aimed at his neck, and he caught her wrists. "If you have the strength, that is."

"Fuck you," she snarled, bearing down with all her weight. His arms didn't budge, and her claws came no closer to his neck.

Shalafae laughed, his clothes morphing until he wore only leather pants and black hair. "Isn't that why you want me dead? All those years I fucked you, and you never enjoyed yourself." He bucked his hips. "Or did you?"

"Never." She strained, focused on his neck. Morrigana wanted to bathe in his blood, to hear him gurgle and choke. Then eat his heart and rid the universe of his taint.

He laughed, sitting up as if she weighed nothing. "You lie to yourself."

She screamed in his face, unleashing all her frustration. Shalafae wouldn't budge, and began pressing her wrists back. Her strength was failing her, right when she needed it most. Here was her target, in her grasp, and she couldn't finish him off.

Shalafae leaned in to kiss her, his mouth warm against hers. "You must have liked it. Why else can't you kill me?" His tongue darted out to her lower lip.

"Because you're stronger than me," she complained, twisting her arms in an attempt to break free.

"We're inside your head," he whispered, nuzzling her neck. Morrigana tried to turn her head to block him, but it was a wasted effort. "You're in control, Daughter. So why can't you stop me?"

Her growl turned to a whimper, and she became frantic in her efforts to escape. "You're wrong. I never liked it. I don't want you." A shiver raced up her spine as he nipped her collarbone. "There's no pleasure in your touch."

"Your body speaks different than your mouth." He licked her earlobe, and her breath caught.

"I hate you," Morrigana said, clinging to her anger. "You trick me, and make me into something I'm not."

Shalafae forced her onto her back, bringing out every helpless memory she'd ever had: years of crying as he raped her; the derision and torment; him forcing her to kinkier and kinkier coupling. "Don't touch me!" she shrieked, voice breaking, tears rising.

"Did you truly never enjoy my touch?" His voice had softened, and he sounded surprised.

"Never." She shook, anger replaced by trauma and fear. So much of her life had been spent cowering from this man, and she still couldn't stop.

His weight shifted away. "Then tell me how to please you. This is our last night together, and I would have you enjoy yourself."

Morrigana laughed, wrapping her arms around her middle. "You think sex can make up for rape?"

A gentle mouth touch a space of bare thigh above her boot. "Tell me what would please you then."

Morrigana laughed bitterly, sitting up, pulling away from Shalafae. The laugh caught in her throat when she saw her father. He'd changed again, this time to an etherally beautiful youth. His eyes were milky blue, but sharp with intelligence. Full lips were dark with rouge, his hair silken white waves around his shoulders. He still wore leather pants, but now a thick collar encircled his long neck.

When she found her voice again, it was full of regret and pain. "I don't know. You never taught me about any pleasure other than your own."

"An oversight I wish I had time to correct." He bent forward, kissing her booted feet. Morrigana pulled away, and he followed, kissing her ankles, then her shins.

"Why?" was all she could manage. She couldn't look away as he kissed her knees, moving closer. His lean chest touched her calf, and she felt his heat through enchanted leather.

His eyes were locked on hers as he traced her hip. "Because you deserve it. Because you are a wonderful being who should know good things."

Morrigana growled, reaching for him. Shalafae gasped and trembled as she grabbed a handful of his hair, yanking him close. His cheeks darkened as he flushed, and she tasted desire on his breath. "What if my pleasure is your death?"

"If it makes my lady happy, then so be it." He slowly closed his eyes, his entire being at peace.

"Damn you," she whispered. Pulling him into a savage kiss, she pressed his body against her. She wrapped her free hand around his throat, but didn't squeeze. "How can you do this to me?" she asked when the kiss ended.

Shalafae cupped her face, kissing the tip of her nose. "Because you're my lady."

"Don't say that." She shook him by his hair, making him wince. "Don't lie to me anymore."

"No lies, my daughter." Tears rose in her eyes, and she tried to hate him. "You don't know how far beyond my expectations you've come. I lo-"

"No!" she hissed, pushing him away. "No you don't. You're not capable." Morrigana drew her knees to her chin, wrapping her arms around her legs as she sobbed. "No, no, no, no."

I'm supposed to hate him. I want to hate him. I want him to die. I want him to pay, to suffer. I want him to beg and grovel as he made me beg and grovel.

Shalafae wrapped his arms around her, and she stiffened. "You've gone through so much, Daughter. I'm impressed by your strength and resilience. I never imagined you'd come so far." He kissed the top of her head. "My masterpiece."

"I can't kill you," she said, still sobbing. "I want you to pay, but I can't do it."

Shalafae ran a hand through her hair, rocking her. "You know why."

"No." She lifted her head, meeting his eyes. He'd become his normal self, but kept the pale eyes. For centuries she'd seen this face, had seen the pride in his eyes and denied it.

Revkah offered a memory of a besotted Shalafae after Morrigana's birth, and the hybrid could deny their feelings no longer.

"I love you, Daughter."

"I love you, too, Father."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for taking the time to say something to me. I love hearing from you.