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Dust and Light V

Amidst the pandemonium, a cruel and mocking laughter cut through the air. Its chilling echo made my blood run cold.  My eyes landed on Absinthya, sprawled on the cold floor, and I couldn’t help but gasp at the transformation that had taken place. Her once ethereal beauty was now marred by deep wrinkles and dark age spots, giving her a shockingly human appearance. It was as if time had caught up to her in an instant, making her seem old and weak…mortal.

“Still pining after that High Lord of yours, I see,”  she sneered, “But let’s face it, Aerin, he’ll never want you.” Her words were like poison, seeping into every crack and crevice of my being.

Ignore her. 

My jaw tensed and my fingernails dug into my palms, forming crescent-shaped marks. “I’ve told you before, Aunt, I have no interest in Rohan,” I replied, injecting defiance into every word. It was a lie, of course. But I couldn’t let her see how much her words affected me.

Absinthya’s laughter grew louder, more mocking. “Oh, please. We both know the truth, Aerin. You can’t hide your desire for him any longer.”

“Stop!” I snapped, unable to bear another moment of this torment.

Absinthya sneered, her ruby orbs blazing with contempt. “You’re nothing but a foolish little child, chasing after a fantasy that will never be yours,” she hissed.

But beneath her cruel facade, I could feel the desperation seeping through.

“Do you truly believe you could ever capture his heart? How laughable.” the Queen taunted. “You’re a mere pawn in his game, Aerin. Nothing more, nothing less.”

I stood firm, refusing to let her words break me. “You underestimate me, Aunt,” I shot back, lifting my chin a fraction higher. “I may not be of noble birth, but I possess a strength you can only dream of. And I will not let you or anyone else dictate my fate.

Absinthya’s laughter turned bitter, a cruel sound that froze the air around me. “You are pitiful,” she hissed, her eyes burning with spite. “Just like your mother. Weak, foolish, destined for nothing but misery.”

My blood boiled at her words, a fiery rage coursing through me. With clenched fists and gritted teeth, I hissed back at her, “How dare you speak of my mother like that. You are nothing but a jealous harpy, consumed by your own vicious envy.”

Absinthya’s cruel smile only widened, revealing her true nature as a manipulative and vindictive woman. “Oh, but I know more about your precious mother than you think, my dear niece,” she taunted, her words dripping with venom. “Your mother may have fooled others with her sweetness, but she is a master manipulator just like me.”

I recoiled at her words, a sickening feeling twisting in the pit of my stomach.

“No!” I yelled, my voice laced with anger. “You’re wrong. My mother is kind and loving…nothing like you.” I shook my head in disbelief, refusing to believe her malicious words.

But even as the words left my lips, I couldn’t shake the feeling of unease that tightened in my gut. What if Absinthya was right? What if my mother had been playing a game all along, manipulating everyone around her for her own gain? Rohan’s cruel words echoed in my mind, poisoning my thoughts.

I pushed the thought aside, burying it deep within me where it couldn’t hurt me. I refused to believe that my mother could be capable of such thing.

Absinthya’s scornful laughter echoed through the grand hall. “Oh, sweet Aerin,” she sneered. “You’re such a naive little dove. But don’t worry, my dear. You’ll learn soon enough.”

I met her gaze with defiance, refusing to back down. “You’re wrong,” I declared, my voice ringing with conviction. “I won’t let you poison my mind with your lies.”

A wave of fury washed over me, drowning out all rational thought. In that moment, there was only one thing driving me forward: vengeance.

My hand shook with rage as I reached down and grabbed a shard of glass, the remnants of the shattered crystal still sharp and cruel. Absinthya’s eyes widened in terror as she realized my intent, her attempts to escape futile as I stalked towards her.

With a cold expression, I knelt beside her, my movements steady and precise. Without a shred of hesitation, I plunged the jagged glass into her throat, relishing the feeling of warm blood gushing over my hand and hearing her gurgle in pain. “This is for me,” I declared through clenched teeth, my voice filled with fury.

Ignoring her desperate struggles, I drove the glass deeper, tearing into her chest with brutal force. Slick redness bloomed across the wound as I snarled, “And this is for my brother.”

My grip tightened on the shard, the wet warmth of blood slicking my hand as I drove it into her abdomen with a ferocious thrust. A guttural, wet gurgle escaped her lips, and bile rose in my throat as nausea clawed at me. Despite this, I plunged the shard deeper. “This…is for Rohan…” My voice barely recognizable, anger consuming me.  Each word punctuated by another savage strike that tore through Absinthya’s body.  Her screams drowned out by the sickening sounds of flesh being rent apart.

But even as I inflicted my retribution, Absinthya’s laughter continued, a sickening gurgle mingling with her mocking taunts. Blood spurted from her mouth, but she only laughed harder, her eyes wild with mad glee. The sight of her twisted grin only fueled the fire burning within me, driving me to strike harder, faster, with a relentless fury born of pure hatred.

“Die!” I screamed, each word a primal howl of agony and vengeance. But her laughter persisted, driving me further into a frenzy. “Die!” I screamed, my vision clouded by red rage.

“Die! Die! Die!” My screams echoed through the air, drowning out all other sound as I unleashed every ounce of rage and hatred within me. I felt alive with a savage pleasure unlike anything I had ever experienced before. This was not just retribution, this was liberation from the pain and torment she had inflicted upon me.

The lines between vengeance and savagery blurred. I was a storm, ready to consume everything in my path. My grip tightened, the shard a mere extension of my burning fury that threatened to spiral out of control. But then a pair of hands, firm and familiar, grabbed me, yanking me back from the precipice.

A startled cry escaped my lips and I paused in my struggle as the familiar scent of Rohan filled my nostrils – a blend of musk and cedar with a hint of leather and the smell of blood from the battle. His voice was gruff yet soothing, “Enough, Aerin,” he growled, his breath hot against my ear, sending shivers down my neck. “She’s gone. It’s over.”

A flicker of sanity sparked within me, enough to loosen my grip on the shard. As my knees buckled, he was there to catch me. The world felt like it was spinning out of control as I fell into the solid warmth of his embrace. My dress was now soaked in blood, my trembling hands dripping red.

Had I become the monster I had sworn to destroy? Tears welled in my eyes, blurring the scene before me. Hot against my cheek, they mingled with the bloodstains.

“It’s over,” he murmured softly. “It’s all over now. Everything’s going to be okay.”

Rohan’s hand, rough yet strangely comforting, cupped my tear-streaked cheek. His fingers, warm and calloused, traced the contours of my face, sending a delicious tremor ran through me. His stormy grey eyes, like a tempestuous sea, bore into mine, holding me steady amidst the chaos of my emotions.

“You were brave,” he whispered, his voice husky. “You did what had to be done.” His thumb brushed away a tear, the pad rough against my  skin, amplifying the tremor that danced down my spine. “You are safe now.”

The heat of his touch ignited a primal urge within me. I wanted nothing more than to melt into him, to find solace and comfort in the strength of his arms. But this was dangerous territory, a path I couldn’t afford to tread. He and I, it was a forbidden dance, a dance of fire and ice, of light and shadows. I had to remain strong, focused. Even if every fiber of my being screamed to surrender to him.

His regal attire had transformed into something dark and formidable. Under the dimming light, glistening ebony scales coated his arms,torso and legs, creating an impenetrable armor.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. When had he even conjured such a masterpiece?

As my gaze drifted past Rohan, I couldn’t help but be stunned by the scene that unfolded behind him. The ground was littered with the bodies of our enemies, their lifeless forms strewn across the floor like discarded puppets. Blood pooling around them in dark, viscous puddles that reflected the dim light of the hall. Some lay motionless, their eyes frozen in wide-eyed terror, while others writhed in the grip of their final agonizing moments. The air was thick with the metallic tang of blood and the scent of magic.

He did this… all by himself? How is this possible?

But before I could dwell on it further, a new wave of guards flooded into the ruined hall. Monstrous fairies, clad in dark, imposing armor adorned with menacing spikes and jagged edges, led the charge with a ferocity. Behind them, smaller and more sinister creatures flitted through the air like dark shadows. Their razor-sharp claws and fangs glistening in the light.

Fear clenched my heart as I realized that the battle was far from over.

“It’s not over yet,” I whispered, my voice barely audible above the cries of hatred that crashed like deadly waves.

Rohan followed my gaze with an eerie calmness, taking in the imminent danger with an almost unnerving ease. “Don’t worry,” he purred with a smug grin.”We have some friends.”

And true to his words, a group of humans and faeries emerged, prisoners turned allies, joining the fray with magic and swords. They charged into battle, a united front against our common enemy.

The ground trembled beneath us, the walls cracking and splintering as if they were mere toys. Debris fell from above, a dangerous shower that threatened our very lives, but then it stopped abruptly. I cast a worried glance at Rohan, his features tense and rigid with worry. A pang of fear tightened in my chest at the sight, recognizing the ominous signs of a potential collapse.

“I want to help,” I urged, my gaze fixed on the bloody battle before us. But Rohan held me back, his grip firm but gentle.

“You’re barely standing,” he growled, his eyes blazing with concern. “Using magic in your current state would be dangerous.”

I stiffened at his words, my stubbornness flaring. “I can’t just do nothing,” I argued, frustration evident in my voice.

His hand landed roughly on my bare shoulder, calloused fingers digging into my skin. A tremor ran through me at his touch, a jolt of awareness that left me tingling. As he looked at me seriously, I knew he was right. “Your first lesson: Magic is life,” he declared firmly. “I won’t allow you to risk yours for this.”

Reluctantly, I nodded, acknowledging the wisdom in his words.

“But promise me,” he implored, his tone softening. “Promise me you’ll stay out of the fight.”

My heart ached, but I reluctantly gave in. “Fine,” I grumbled. “I’ll stay out of it.”

Rohan conjured a sword, its sharp edge glinting in the faint light. As he turned to leave, I hesitated for a moment, unsure if I should stop him or let him go. But before I could think it through, my hand reached out and grabbed his arm, pulling him back. He looked back at me with confusion and for a split second, I questioned my actions. In that moment, all the noise and chaos of battle seemed to fade away, leaving only the rapid beating of my heart. My heart raced with conflicting emotions and I searched desperately for the right words to say.

Dust motes danced in the fractured sunlight filtering through the shattered throne room window. The air thrummed with the clash of steel on steel. I chewed on my lip, the taste metallic against my sudden dryness. My gaze darted around the room, landing on a toppled pillar, a splintered banner, anything but him.


My voice, when it finally came, was a mere tremor. “Promise… promise you’ll be careful,” I whispered, the words catching in my throat like tangled thread. The clang of metal somewhere in the distance echoed the clash inside me – worry warring with a terrifying affection I couldn’t name – threatening to spill over, making my voice thick and shaky.

A ghost of a smile touched his lips, amusement dancing in his eyes. “Always princess,” he murmured.

I looked away again, heat rising up my neck. I wanted to scream, to confess the avalanche of worry and… something more, something terrifying to even think of saying out loud. But the words caught in my throat, forming a painful knot. I hated feeling so vulnerable.

With a heavy sigh, I watched him go, a sense of unease settling over me like a heavy blanket.


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