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Dust and Light IV

My body convulsed in a violent spasm, the world around me blurring into a chaotic frenzy. My screams were guttural and unending, a primal cry for mercy that fell on deaf ears. The sound reverberated through the vast room, a chorus of desperation and pain. The agony raged within me like an inferno, ravaging my soul until all that remained was a smoldering husk of ash.

Each breath I took felt like a struggle, my lungs burning as if they were filled with molten fire. My body trembled uncontrollably, every nerve on fire with excruciating torture. It felt as though every piece of my being was consumed by an unyielding agony that refused to relent.

Weakness enveloped me like a chilling shroud. My limbs grew heavy, my movements sluggish. I felt myself slipping away, my consciousness fading into the encroaching darkness.

Then, everything seemed to collapse around me. The magical thread connecting me to the evil crystal, the source of my torment, trembled and faded. I felt a vibration coursing through the air. As I looked, I saw the crystal in Absinthya’s hand swell in size. It pulsed with a glow, casting an eerie light across the room. The queen’s maniacal laughter filled the hall, echoing like the roar of a victorious beast.

But then, a delicate noise pierced through the deafening laughter. The tinkling of breaking glass, a minuscule sound but heard by all with their sharp fey senses.

The crystal shattered like a star, exploding in a blinding flash that momentarily banished the oppressive semi-darkness. A gust of wind swept through the grand throne hall. I was too weak to react, but I could feel the magic moving through the space, every tendril of power returning to its rightful owner, while my Aunt’s enraged scream cut through the chaos like a knife.

I felt my own energy returning, like a river flowing back to its course. My strength slowly returned, my limbs regaining their vigor.

Slowly, I rose, my legs trembling beneath me. I swayed unsteadily, my vision still blurred. But with each passing moment, my senses sharpened, and the world around me came back into focus.

The symbols painted in my arms vanished before my eyes. The ropes, empowered by magic to hold my wrists to the iron bars, disintegrated along with the crystal. I flexed my wrists, testing my newfound freedom.

I stood there for a moment, taking in the scene around me. The queen’s throne lay shattered, its fragments scattered across the red marble floor. The once-majestic hall now lay in partial ruins. Windows shattered, furniture overturned, and chaos reigned supreme. The fey nobles who had watched with mocking smiles now fled in terror, their laughter replaced by panicked screams.

The crystal shattered, casting the throne room into chaos. Despite feeling weak, I managed to remain standing. A metallic tang filled my mouth – blood, my own, from a bite on my lip.  My eyes landed on Absinthya, crumpled on the cold floor, her silver hair obscuring her face.

Darkness, thick and suffocating, swallowed the whole room. The screams of the fleeing nobles were abruptly cut off, replaced by a chilling silence broken only by ragged gasps and choked sobs. Then, as if the world decided to breathe again, light seeped back in, revealing the carnage that had unfolded in those stolen moments. Bodies lay scattered across the room, their lifeless eyes staring up at the ceiling in frozen terror. Limbs contorted at unnatural angles, as if desperately trying to escape their grisly fate. Pools of blood seeped out from beneath them, forming macabre patterns on the floor. The scent of blood hung heavy in the air, mingling with the stench of fear and death.

In a flash, Rohan appeared next to me, his eyes burning with an otherworldly glow. The once familiar shades of blue and gray now danced like silver flames. Each glinting with an intensity that sent a tremor of heat through me. Their intensity stole my breath, leaving me gasping like a fish out of water.

Oh gods, why did he have to look at me like that? 

His talons, like obsidian blades dripping with the blood of those he had slain, revealed his true nature.  In that moment, a wave of chilling fear washed over me.  He wasn’t just my protector; he was a lethal weapon, a savage force unleashed against our foes.  My body trembled, unsure if it was from terror or desire, as his gaze held me captive. It was like a wildfire consuming me, awakening something wild and untamed. But the fear remained, like a poison coursing through my veins and preventing me from tearing my eyes away from him.

As if sensing my sudden apprehension, his fierce hands relaxed and retracted the deadly talons. The blood on his face gave him a savage appearance, but when he spoke in his deep, gravelly voice, I heard an unexpected gentleness I didn’t expect from someone with such deadly abilities.

“Don’t be afraid,” he reassured me, his eyes softening. In that moment, my perception shifted, and all I saw was the captivating beauty of this lethal being before me.

For a heartbeat, the world around us dissolved, leaving only the two of us locked in a silent dance. The carnage – some of the terrified nobles, spared by his mercy, scrambling over one another like ants, the approaching guards with their glinting blades– faded into the background. All I saw was Rohan, his presence radiating power, and an underlying hint of something primal, something dangerous.

His hand, warm and comforting, brushed against my arm as he checked for injuries.  Focus, Aerin. Focus . A jolt of electricity shot through me at the contact. My breath hitched, trapped in my throat. Shame burned in my gut, but a traitorous warmth bloomed in my chest. I wanted to pull away, to deny the undeniable heat that surged between us, but what if I didn’t want to? My body refused to obey, craving his touch with a hunger I couldn’t ignore.

“Are you ok?” he asked, concerned.

I nodded, though the intensity of his gaze made it difficult to find my voice. “I’m fine,” I managed to reply, my words a mere whisper amidst the chaos surrounding us. “I don’t need your help.”  Why did I say that?  I lied, pushing his hand away with a tremor that betrayed my defiance. The heat lingering on my skin even after the contact was broken.

Rohan’s jaw clenched for a brief moment, his gaze dropping to where I’d rejected his touch. A flicker of something unreadable passed through his eyes before it was masked by a stoic indifference. With a curt nod, he turned away, his features hardening as he squared his shoulders to face the approaching guards.

I watched him go, my heart pounding in my chest. The warmth of his touch remained, like a branding iron searing a mark on my skin and I couldn’t shake the feeling of his gaze on me. I was a mess of conflicting emotions. I wanted him desperately, but I knew I couldn’t have him. I knew I was in trouble. But I couldn’t help myself. I was drawn to him like a sailor to a siren’s song.

This was something deeper, something primal, a connection that transcended the boundaries of words.

And I was terrified of it.

A blur of midnight and moonlight, Rohan’s powerful form launched himself at the oncoming guards. With lethal grace, he moved like a whirlwind of dark fury, each blow a promise of oblivion.


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