There is light a flash engulfing darkness overwhelming stillness absolute silent Time is frozen. I am frozen. Or do I exist anymore at all? I do not know All I have is this thought I am I am here somewhere nowhere everywhere or Am I the thought that someone else is having? You are You are there and so am I A pop a flash then there is light blank soft light Everyone is gone but I am not alone. . . . . . from By Moonlight: A Post Apocalyptic Fairy Tale by Q. Lenise Lee. Copyright 2021. All Rights Reserved.
From below, Ethaniel and Shalise watched as the high blue sky disappeared behind the descending chaos. Dakken hovered nearby, a silent shadow beneath the long barren branches of the ancient elm tree. The children sat in the dust near a dilapidated car, rusted nearly to only strip metal and bolts. They held hands and kept their eyes closed tight, as if in deep prayer and meditation.
A reckoning was upon them all. Elder gods do not die, they are only reborn darker and more powerful.
Ethan and Shay moved closer and pressed their shoulders together. The pale skin of Ethan’s broad shoulder pushed into the warm flesh of Shay’s slim brown one. On instinct, they touched hands and held tight to each other. Electrified chaos began gathering all around them. But they had defeated the dark once before. Together . As one force, united. And they could do it again.
Her thoughts touched his mind and he jerked.
The sudden burst of movement sent a stab of pain through every inch of Ethan’s broad frame.
He was unimaginably stronger – physically, psychically, and kinetically – than any other being under this roof, yet now he was suspended mid-air and helpless. They had beaten him first and then cast their spells to bind him in chains forged in titanium. As added punishment for his insolence, and to ensure his suffering was as excruciating as possible, Mother and Father – his handlers – had tied him in an unnatural position, with his arms and legs twisted and bent, criss-crossing each other in unusual ways, and stretching his tendons, muscles, and joints to their extreme limits.
Until this moment he had been absolutely still, summoning the mental focus to pause even his breaths to bare minimum so as not to raise his chest wall too much. A breath taken too deeply would squeeze the chains even tighter around his ribs, nearly to the point of his suffocation.
Where are you? Her ability to speak to him through their mental tie came easily to her now, and he was pleased with how fast her newfound senses were awakening, sharpening.
He wondered. Did his presence trigger the gifts buried deep within her to bloom? Or were they destined to do so on their own? She was of age, so maybe he had not been the catalyst to her awakening as she had been for his reawakening.
Within the timeless dark void of the chamber, he had thought of nothing else but her. And now she had come.
He had done away with a kingsmen to protect her, and now he was bearing the fullest consequences. Battered and bruised from brow to toe, lungs collapsing, and eyes swollen shut. And he would do it all again, without hesitation.
He would always save her.
And she would always return to him.
Their bond was unbreakable now. Her appearance here had proved this to him. He saw the sequence of events after he had been taken from the room, and she could have used her abilities to escape and left him behind, never to be thought of again. But she had not. Instead, she was risking her life to come to his rescue this time.
Through his agony, he called out to her. Silent thoughts seeking out the only soul who could comfort him. And she had responded without delay.
I can’t see anything in here, she spoke to him in silence, moving her thoughts from her being into his mind, I can’t even hear you breathing. She paused, still as the midnight. Are you still alive?
She asked the question, but he knew that she already sensed the answered before the words were even formed.
He, on the other hand, knew exactly where she stood.
Three feet away and to his right.
He couldn’t risk injuring himself any further – after all, he was only half immortal, for now – so he sent only the smallest energy pulse toward her. Like a drowning man, using the last of his strength, to signal a passerby, hoping against all hope that they would spot the plea and drag his weak and withered body from the depths of the ocean waves or from the exhausting flow of the rushing stream and back toward the calm stillness of the shoreline.
Shay was Ethan’s lifeline, and he urged her, gently, to hurry and come nearer.
He felt her mind tug and recoil. It was mostly from fear. She did not understand what he was trying to do.
Don’t be afraid, love, his mind whispered to hers. We don’t have much time.
Reluctantly, at first, then more willingly with each tick of the universal pulse that surrounded them all, she dropped her guard and edged forward. Closer and closer still, until they were within a breath of one another.
His upside down coolness drawn into the warmth she pushed down on him from her right side up position.
They told the guards to take me back upstairs, to the room. He didn’t need her to retell the story, he had already read the path of events directly from her memory, but allowed her to continue. She needed to work through what had happened. She needed to understand how powerful she would be become, especially now that they were united. I knew they were going to kill me, eventually. I was prepared for that…, she stuttered, but I…I didn’t want them to keep hurting you…, he sensed the moisture gathering at the corner of her eyes. You saved me….again. You knew this would happen, and you did it anyway. And they hurt you so badly because of what you did for me.
She paused, her mind went silent and he nearly panicked at the absence of her awareness.
Then he knew why she had shut down. Her story had almost ended has horribly.
He was walking me upstairs, she continued, right beside me, so close that his skin was brushing mine. That chill! Her hands flew to her mouth as she muted what nearly became a frantic screech. I knew, I knew, I knew. I saw it in my mind…what he was going to do…to me…once we were back at that room, she held in the sob but he knew her lips were quivering. I don’t know what happened next. I freaked out…I was going to try to run, but then I saw your face. I…felt your presence…standing nearby, but when I looked around, you weren’t really there. And then it all just made sense…I wasn’t scared anymore. I knew what to do next…it was a like an impulse, an instinct. I stopped and I just…I just turned to him and said the words. Take me to him. Then this feeling, like an electric shock ripped through me, but it didn’t hurt me. It hurt him though, I could tell, I could see the change. His eyes went gray and shiny but his stare was blank and dumb. Then he turned around and walked me down here.
Ethan’s mind roamed toward the door and finally moved beyond it. He sensed the guard there. Shay’s grip on him was loosening. They had to move. But even if they escaped this room, there was no escaping the true darkness that was beyond, surrounding them in all directions.
At the moment, it didn’t matter. He would think of their next move once he was free and they were moving toward somewhere, anywhere away from this torture chamber. This would be his last time ever entering this room.
Shay, he spoke silently to her once more, lean down.
And she did, eagerly following his thought-words.
She could do this, he knew she could. The power was already overflowing from within her.
Touch your head to mind, like this. He showed her a vision of how she had to lay her brow against his. And she did.
Her warmth stirred a strange lust and an even stranger comfort within him. The kind of hypnotic, pleasurable strangeness that would become an addiction in no time at all.
Then he showed her how to move her energy into him. He was weak and his internal bleeding was heavy. He needed her to heal him, and maybe then he could break the chains that immobilized him.
After her first try failed, he touched her thoughts with an invisible kiss – soft and reassuring. He promised her that if she could not do this, he would not be mad. Instead, even if it was his time to seep into the depths of the unknown beyond, he would go happier than he had ever been before this night. No one else had ever filled him with as much peace and hope. Not even Tiffany.
With that last thought, a feral wave bubbled forward from Shay. Full, hot, quick and powerful, filling him with a burst of strength. His muscles swelled once more, the blood that had been pooling around his organs dispersed and returned to where it was needed most for healing.
He was reborn within the strength she had blessed to him.
And with one giant pulse-wave and one spoken command – UNBOUND – Ethan flexed his full frame and the titanium shackles that held him broke.
Just before tumbling to the floor, he quickly rotated his body and landed with his feet planted on the floor, crouching and filled with renewed purpose and bursting with pure energy.
No time to waste. They had to run. Far and fast, before anyone knew they were gone.
Ethan grabbed Shay by her thin wrist and pulled her forward toward the door.
Before his fingers touched the knob, the chamber flooded with blinding light. From high over head a voice – still cruel, still intoxicated with dark influence and still dripping with mennace – boomed down on them.
“Very good, my son.” Father said, with pleasure in his tone. “Excellent, my new daughter.
I see what all the fuss has been about.” An unseen smerk filled his spoken words. “She is truly the missing piece to this puzzle. And we are so very glad that you have found her for ussss.” He hissed the last word, allowing his natural being to leach out. A momentary slip that he quickly corrected. “Now the initiation of the darkest dawn can begin.”
The door to the chamber swung open. Shay’s glimmer was fully broken, and the guard had returned to awareness.
“Take them both for cleaning and dressing. Feed them as well. We need them beautiful and strong, so that the rite can move forward as foretold.”
There was a drawn out pause, not even the air dared to move.
“Dear son,” Father continued. Ethan had always hated being called that. This warlock was never a father to him, nor was the witch his real mother. Captors at best, torturers at worst. Seeping darkness into him, until Shay returned the possibility of reigniting his light. “Did you think she escaped on her own? We had to see what she was capable of. We had to see what you were capable of together.”
They had used him as bait in order to force Shay to evolve without delay.
But now they would regret the fruit of the seeds they had sown.
Without thinking, the couple clasped their hands together, and intertwined their fingers tightly. Their bodies pushed together, interlocking their energies as well. Waves moved around them, first invisible to human eye and then brightening with each pulse into a flaming gold barrier that shimmered and flared.
Show no fear, love, he whispered calmly into her thoughts.
I never do, she replied into his mind.
A half grin touched his mouth as he squeezed her hand tighter. She was a woman after his own heart and filled with his same fierceness.
Ethan balled his free hand into a tight fist. Crimson energy waves first sputtered and then sparked into a full illuminated glow. Shay followed his lead and did the same with hers, releasing a flame of indigo blue of equal size and power.
The color of their eyes shifted – his from pale blue and hers from hazel – into the most brilliant and glowing gold hue.
Alone, they each only had half the potential to ascend.
Together, they would become celestial. Brighter, more radiant and more powerful than the nuclear energy flowing through a thousand yellow suns.
Starting at this moment, they would become the light piercing the darkening world, awakening it from its slumber.
Shay and Ethan flexed their energies in unison, and the stone walls of the chamber shook.
As their unified power rose, this ancient castle would eventually fall.
End Part Two
Copyright 2018 Lenise Lee Pubn
Ruin and rumble.
On all sides. In all directions.
That was all the pair could see.
They stood, surveying the carnage which they had created.
But that was now.
A moment ago they were huddled together beneath the heap of heavy rocks and dust that had once been a dark castle on a black hill. They were protected from the immense weight of the pile by the energy bubble they had forged at the very last moment.
The moment when they, in unison – as they would always be from this point forward – realized that they were more powerful together than apart.
When the great revelation finally came upon them, and then manifested itself.
Shalise and Ethaniel were the most powerful beings in this universe. They always had been and always would be, but only when they were One.
Hands still clasped together, fingers interwoven – her cocoa ones twining through his pale ones – they breathed, again as a single force, slow…deep…purposeful breaths.
This was not a victory. It was only a beginning.
They had ended the dark reign of those who had dwelled within the walls now laid flat. Yet there was so much more to do. Ethan’s father and mother were not dead. They had merely removed themselves from danger. He could sense that – very clearly – and, by default, so could Shay. They were not near. The sinister force that had once haunted this ground had been forcefully swept far away, but not so far that their heavy presence had been completely muted. They were in hiding. Probably had taken a chosen few of their minions and gone to think, regroup, and plot their next phase. There was no doubt in Ethan’s mind – nor Shay’s – that they would resurface, eventually.
“What now?” Shay’s voice was soft, unusually soft, and its subtle texture pulled at his heart, causing Ethan to squeeze her hand slightly, tenderly.
He turned his blue eyes from the wreckage surrounding them and placed a tender, warmer gaze into her hazel stare. He loved her so much. It was an overwhelming swell in the center of his chest, a feeling of complete rapture that he had never known before and would experience only in her presence. He wanted to run away with her to the furthest corners of creation and wrap her so completely in his love, so that no force would ever be able to touch her luminous spirit or harm her perfect flesh again. Would that be terribly selfish to actually do that?
Just as quickly as the thought silked his mind, another tug called it back to the here and now.
Ethan’s eyes reluctantly looked away and back toward the coming dawn.
This time, for the first time in many years, he did not fear the rising of the new sun. The permeation of a once-feared dose of heavy daylight, instead, heralded a new sensation, which he welcomed.
It no longer burned to feel the ember waves of sunlight flowing over his skin. It was a warm caress. A revitalizing pulse of energy, renewing his purpose and setting his solemn vows into sacred places.
Ethan closed his eyes, tilted his sharp chip upward, locked his jaw tight, and breathed deeply of the new day and of the morning dew. Where once darkness had been his bondage, Ethaniel was, now and forever, reborn in Light. With his queen, his love, the other half of his soul, Shalise, by his side.
Dipping his face down and out toward the eerily silent city in the valley below, he knew there was much work to be done. Nothing stirred there. It was time to wake up others and bring them into this journey. They would need much help with what was to come.
“Now we fight.” He said, voice low and husky, filled with passion and purpose. “We hold the dark. Push it back, starting here and then move that front in all directions. This is zero ground. It will soon become sacred again.”
Shay moved her gaze in the direction that his eyes pointed toward.
She held tighter to his hand, and the glow at the center of their grasp pulsed again.
“We fight,” she repeated his oath, “We hold the dark. We push it back, as far as we can in all directions… Together.”
“Together,” he affirmed, as the couple began to move forward on strengthen legs.
Theia nodded. She was finally satisfied.
“Now we help them,” the goddess said as she began to transform her energy and descend into the human realm. “This ending is the world’s new and much-needed beginning.”
“Agreed,” her celestial husband, Hyperion, noted in an energy pulse, as he also moved toward the lower world of mankind.
In a thought, they were both removed from their watchful post behind the curtain of creation and walking among the mortal beings.
They would not be recognized. At least not until they were ready to be so.
As they moved toward the edge of the muted and dirty city, the silhouette of a couple pierced the light of dawn spilling over the hill on the eastern horizon.
“There,” Theia said, “coming over that hill.”
“I see them,” Hyperion replied, “shall we introduce ourselves?”
“No,” her answer was sharp and low. “Let them find us first. This will be the first of many tests. We must prepare them in all areas for what is to come.”
And with that, like smoke and fog, the two were gone into the air.
BEGIN PART THREE
©Lenise Lee Pubn. All Rights Reserved.
“Shall we assist them?”
They spoke, but not in a manner that any human could fully comprehend, and not in a language that any human could completely understand or speak fluently.
They existed, but not on a frequency that mankind could dwell within for more than a flash of a moment, or what they perceived to be a moment.
They constantly observed, with the children of men having only the slightest sensation of their presence.
They battled and waged great wars amongst one another and on scales so immense that the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve were only signaled of their occurence by way of unpredicted and grand celestial events.
They also loved, more tenderly than any mother or father toward a newborn, and more passionately than a lover with a newfound kindred spirit.
Yet now, through all they had witnessed over the eons, since the dawning of all things, this moment had caught their fullest attention.
Great members of the House of the Pantheons stood on alert, contemplating if intervention was needed – not only to save mankind but, more importantly, to save themselves.
Man would continually evolve and regress and then return to a thinking, contemplating species only to tumble downward once more, as was his destiny, but the celestials were created to overcome such a barbaric cycle.
However, here and now, this perceived moment could potentially be the beginning of the undoing of the many layers and ribbons that enfolded the fabric of reality itself.
Hyperion, mighty king of Sol, looked, more like motioned his celestial energy toward, Theia, his wife, mother of Luna and Gaia.
She acknowledged him by casting forward a rippling wave of light energy of her own to touch the source of his being.
If they were to manifest into tender flesh, he would be in the appearance of a kind and jolly father, handsome and robust for his age; and she would be a startling beauty, too vibrant to be thought of as a mother and too enigmatic to be anything other than adored by all.
“We will wait,” was her quiet, calm reply. “They must prove themselves worthy of our help.”
She was correct, as always.
His wife was the more rationale one, and he, the more radical of the pair.
Where she was meditative and strategic, he was quick to action with pure emotion.
Still, Hyperion could not shake the feeling that on this particular point, she could be – dare he think it – wrong.
Perhaps not assisting the humans in this particular struggle could prove to be a mistake.
These two were different.
They were more like gods than humans.
Demi-gods, of course, but that was only a play on words and concepts most of the time.
Quickly, he returned his attention to the seriousness of the situation at hand.
Every timeline from this point forward played out before him.
The pair were victorious in none.
And in the process of losing, they would destroy half of the earth and most of the lifeforms that dwelled upon her, by accident, time and time again.
They were too inexperienced in this form of combat, and had very little knowledge as to how to truly harness, focus, and control the power that swirled erratically and chaotically within their genes.
Now bonded, they were like a nuclear inferno, with all of the correct fusions reacting all at once.
Poised to blow in all directions, consuming all things in its path.
“No, dearest,” he spoke to her in a loving wave, “you are incorrect. This bonded pair has already proven much.” He continued as his memory replayed the couple’s individual lifelines. “We have seen it, since their births, how they have already overcome many trials, traps, and adversities, and are still pulsing with a wonderfully bright beacon of purest light.”
He paused, awaiting a stern objection, but none came.
“Husband,” Theia replied, turning her glorious being in his direction. To Hyperion’s shock, she was smiling, or what a human would describe as smiling, if ever a human could see her true face without being consumed. “Finally. You see beyond passion. You see true reason. You see true purpose. And yes, I agree. My initial judgement was in err… on purpose,” she quickly added. “We will intervene…but not just yet.”
Copyright 2018 Lenise Lee Pubn
Sometimes distractions serve the purpose of calling our attention back to details we overlooked the first time.
Such was the case for Shay. She sensed the dark creeping all around she and Ethaniel. Slithering through the shadowed crevices on the rim of the town, silently watching the couple’s purposeful steps, haunting their every move while they made their way down the center road.
What distracted her was a color. One she had not known before this moment. Bright and distinct, a sharp and hopeful contrast against the grey terrain of the sleeping city. It was thin and long, shooting straight up from a random pile of dirt along the roadside. Its lean form reaching upward toward the heavens, as if calling down the warriors of the sky to free this town from the dredge it had allowed itself to become buried beneath.
“Grass,” Ethan’s voice spoke over her shoulder while she stooped down to stare intently at the vibrant thing. Sensing her next question before it was spoken out loud, he answered her thoughts with his own. It use to grow wild from the ground – everywhere – especially in the warm seasons, until the ancestors poisoned the roots of everything.
Her first instinct was to pluck it from its hold. To feel it between her fingers, roll its smooth and moist-looking skin across the surface of her own. To try to understand its nature the only way she had been taught – destroy the thing, to understand it and tame it for her own pleasure and use.
Her second instinct was the true one, the one that gave meaning and purpose to the moment, and her spirit seemed to know this. Watch and wait, then act.
Her eyes followed the movement of the grass, as the slightest breeze pushed it toward the left then back toward the right. Its slim form bent slightly then fully, folding nearly in half, as though it were pointing toward something. In an instant, she understood.
Turning on a pivot, left palm open and ready, she caught the snake mid-leap, before its fangs could sink into Ethan’s bare ankle. Locking her fingers around its head, she squeezed her palm tightly, crushing the sneaky beast’s head in her hand.
Dangers were many, but it seemed as though the earth itself had chosen to save them. At least, this time.
Copyright 2019 Lenise Lee Pubn. All Rights Reserved.
Danger, danger, everywhere. Ethan’s senses were ringing the alarm.
The slithering snake was not the only thing stalking their every step. On all sides of the pair, in all of the shadows, unseen eyes watched closely and waited with stubborn patience.
The energy he sensed was familiar. It was cunning and charming. Yet dark and consuming, like the Void. It was also extremely close.
Danger, danger, everywhere…but most especially over his left shoulder. And approaching fast.
Ethan turned just in time to see slanted eyes, their centers black like coal, peering from the inky shade falling from a tall, broad, and dessicated stump of what was once known as a tree.
“My prince,” the masculine voice was slick like silk and could be equally as seductively dangerous once it wrapped around one’s thoughts. “We searched for you everywhere.” The last word held a hint of untruth. “So surprised to find you…here…out in the open at such an hour.” There was a question hiding in that statement. What the shadowed entity wanted to say was : How is it that you are here out in the open at such as an hour?
Drek was his name and dark words were his given gift from the Void.
Ethan turned tightly on his heels and faced the masculine form standing in the shadow of the mighty stump, which was ashen and grey, in a hibernating slumber, awaiting the day of its resurrection.
Ethan did not fold his arms, but kept them to his sides, with the muscles in his arms and palms taut and ready to spring to defend Shay and himself against the slightest threat.
“I’m here,” Ethan spoke low and with power pulsing through the bass of his voice. His words and their tone were countering the seductive effect of Drek’s mystical incantations. Even a few words spoken by him were enough to seduce an army into surrender.
“So you are,” Drek spoke, pulling back the effect of his dark spell only by a hint. ” Both of you are.” The slanted eyes shifted ever so casually in Shay’s direction. “We thought we had lost her also. How wonderful that you are together. At last.” There was a smile creeping into his words. “So many wonderful things will rise from this union.”
The shadow of a strong leg motioned forward and, in a blink, Ethan stood in front of the shadow, blocking its view of Shay.
“One more step. One more word without my consent, and I will end you.” Ethan’s voice growled like gravel crushing beneath a heavy foot. “I am more powerful than you. Never forget that, servant.”
The rebuke and the force of its power physically stung. A sharp pang ripped down the length of Drek’s slim, athletic form, forcing him to retreat further into a sense of safety as he hid in the depths of the shadow.
The dark outline of full lips motioned to move then, remembering Ethan’s command, he merely nodded his understanding.
“Better,” Ethan’s eyes flashed silver then cooled to their usual ice blue gaze but he didn’t relax his stance. One lesson his adopted parents had taught him that he would always remember. Never let your guard down. A moment’s slip of that one rule of survival could mean a lifetime of regret. “Tell me why you are here. Keep your words silent and focused only within my frequency,” he instructed.
Great Prince, Drek communicated from his thoughts through the narrow mind connection that Ethan had opened between them, as you have spoken, I am your servant. I have been with you many years, since you first arrived in our castle, and will not abandon you now. I have come to continue in my allegiance to you. He silenced himself and awaited Ethan’s reply.
Lies and Deceit. Ethan was not fooled. But Drek had answers to questions that he and Shay needed for their journey. For now, Ethan would listen with attentive ears and a guarded mind. He would also unleash the fullness of his wrath the moment Drek became too much of a threat.
Copyright Lenise Lee Pubn. All Rights Reserved.
I began this journey in a dark place, and now I have taken chances toward a better, brighter one.
Once, not long ago, we – he and I – traveled only by moonlight. We lived only in its silvery halo.
Our paths began asunder, yet were destined to merge within the crown of the sun.
There are moments when I block out the world and stare at the core of myself.
In those moments, I realize it is I who has created that space and that energy, so that I can discover and fulfill my calling. So that I can hear and feel and be embraced by the True Name by which I must be called.
I know I must continue forward. Ever onward. Because there is no past. The present is only a mirage. Only the future is certain.
~From the Thought Diary of Shay
Copyright 2019 Lenise Lee Pubn. All Rights Reserved
She is his Queen. The drip of his pulse taps out her name. The pull of his heart seeks out her essence. His thoughts sync only with her ka, her spirit, the essential presence that is she. Woman who has stolen his will to be, to exist, to breathe. She who has lifted the dark bonds that once held him tight, imprisoned within the enemy of himself. By moonlight she appeared, dressed in the rays of cosmos, crowned by the starlight. At dawn, they walked hand in hand, moving against the cloak of the cosmos, in fear of none, in search of the All.
By Moonlight, An Apocalyptic Fairy Tale by Q. Lenise Lee
His hair had changed. Was changing. She watched as the short straight tips of his platinum blond turned ice blue. An intense contrast to the golden dawn filling the sky over his shoulders.
Shay reached thin fingers toward the crown of Ethan’s head and felt a sharp tingle strike at her fingertips. It was a noisy, slightly painful sensation yet she could not pull away. The motion of her hand was bound toward its destination. The air between them snapped and popped, the sound of a slight crackling touched the rims of her ears.
The closer her hand drew toward the electric blue hair, sharp and stiff, its strands reaching toward the bright heavens overhead, the more powerful the grip became that urged and tugged her closer. Not just her hand, but her full body now motioned into Ethan’s atmosphere.
The secret people spoke of with frightened looks on their faces, lines of worry upon their brows and fear circling at the centers of their eyes.
Q. Lenise Lee
Copyright 2019. All Rights Reserved.
Pebbles, smooth and multicolored, from the dusty ground raised up, hovering mid-air. Small patches of dirt were dragged from their resting places, and lifted into the swirling fray of debri. The old stump from the dessicated tree-thing nearby sounded as though it had began a deep and emotional song, and hummed from within its hollow. The lean blade of grass that had saved them stood stiff and tall, much taller. Had it grown? Had it produced offspring also? As Shay’s eyes instinctively moved in all directions around them, the grass-thing had reproduced itself, spreading out, thousands upon thousands of times in all places wherever the lens of her eyes touched.
A jolt of power summoned her mind back to Ethan. Waves of energy flowed through her fingertips, into the center of her palms, now spreading up the length of her arms and filling her body with a pulse more compelling than before. A song. Faint but familiar, like a soft, slow hum began in her stomach, matching the melody of the chorus sang by the tree-thing. Louder and louder, it moved and stirred, until the words finally burst from within and tumbled from her lips. Prince who became King.
At the pronouncement, Ethan turned. A pulsing, purposeful stare held Shay within its grip. This is the moment when all things changed. The moment Shay had been awaiting, unknowingly, all her life. The song she had forgotten. A memory long buried. It was a silent seed of anticipation, of a coming coronation. Come, now, awaken.
Q. Lenise Lee
Copyright 2019. All Rights Reserved.
These words, full of magic and energy, ageless and timeless, and with confident command, fled her lips.
Now, we escape the Void.
Now, we flee the dark.
We, two, Arise, at First Light.
The deep rumble of his voice answered her call, responding in turn, an oath solemn and true.
Now free, now flowing, infinite movement, All Eternity,
We, two, no longer fleeing, found
As cosmo unfold, pressing forward, exploring, unbound.
In Ethan’s eyes, Shay saw her glowing reflection. Dark hair encircled by a bursting crown of silver. She had changed also.
Strong fingers stroked her forearm, calming her powers back to standby.
“He is a guide,” Ethan’s smooth voice spoke, easing Shay’s mind. His voice, of one calling her to peace, stayed her energy. The unspoken ending – For now – also circled her thoughts. “For what awaits us.”
Q. Lenise Lee
Copyright 2019. All Rights Reserved.
If time is the distraction, then the moment is not the joy.Q. Lenise Lee
When realized their loss, reaching tendrils, in close pursuit, on all sides, fear, screams, drowned out, the voice, of One calling, for some, caught, clawing, dragged, consumed, again, forever scattered, always lost, chained, the never ending loop, of nothingness
We all, the remainder, in flight, toward destination, close not known, toward, the Voice, still calling, still imploring, come, further, just a while longer
Then moments, that never existed, ceased to be, all that was and is, frozen, one single unit, a foreign thing, first rumbling, then clashing, then clanging, then breaking, the dark bond, we were sealed with
A pop, a crackle, a snap, a flash, What is this? First Light, it is, we knew, at once, broke yonder, hither, within, without, all around
Now free, now flowing, caught up, electrical static, infinite movement, All Eternity, we, no longer fleeing, found
As cosmos unfolded, we, I, pressed forward, exploring, unbound.
Come, listen now, to my tale, of how we escaped, the Void, how we fled, the dark
When swept aimlessly along, infinitely blank current, came, the Voice, foreign yet Familiar
Come, now, follow, the way is short, yet long is the travel
Conflict, war, rebellion waged, Shall we stay? Shall we go? No here, no there, how shall we know, which way, be truth?
When overlords wrestled, amongst themselves, how, to keep us chained, to unending confusion, to sweeping emptiness, without, within, we scattered
Some here, some there, we fled, in no direction, in every direction, for they were one, same, within, the Void, the endless
The pitch black that awaited her was blinding. The swoosh of air jetting past her ears and the pressure against her cheeks were the only indicators that she was indeed falling.
Fast and far.
Ethan’s tower had been much higher up than she had anticipated. Ethaniel. Not quite the cold-blooded monster she had envisioned him to be. Pale, yes. An uneasy coolness to his skin, absolutely. But not a monster, this she knew for sure.
The ground was much closer now, she could sense the sudden dread of its nearness. Her stomach lurched at the inevitable end that was awaiting her less than four breaths from now. If the oxygen had not already been sucked from her lungs the exact moment after she swung herself over Ethan’s balcony, she would have surely been screaming by now.
Three. Her belly tightened. Bracing for an impact she would never feel.
Two. Though she saw nothing through the cole blackness, Shalise felt her eyes close and tighten from the terror awaiting her.
One. For some reason, her lips moved. Prayer? No, she knew nothing of it. At least, not anymore.
Her fall stopped so close to the ground that Shay felt stiff, dry blades of grass scratching at her forehead, cheeks, and bare stomach.
Was this what death was like? An eternal sense of hovering within your final moments of life.
No. She was alive.
The only reason why she knew this is because of the quick snatch of breath that flooded her chest as she was violently tugged backward and up into the air.
Something had caught her. Something had saved her less than a moment away from certain demise. Something that had grappled her tumbling body with such force that she could feel its claws still digging deep into the flesh of her mid-back.
Wait. Not claws. The texture was too flesh-like. Not warm, but not bone-chilling, as she imagined talons to be.
Fingers. The nails were deadly sharp, enough to rip her skin. Though she could not see the blood, she felt it crawling down the sides of her back.
Up, up, up, her weakened body climbed. It was like the entire scene was reversing itself. The higher she was pulled, the less intense the darkness became. Slowly, her eyes began to grab at points of reference. Once she spotted the gray slabs of stone that lined the walls of his fortress, a shudder racked through her, from shoulders to toes. Fresh scratches opened across the flat of her stomach as she was dragged over the edge of the abrasive stone.
Finally, the fingers released their grip within the flesh of her back, and Shay was dropped into a crumpled pile at the center of the open balcony.
As Shay lay there, breathless and broken, she squeezed her eyes tight, hoping for a death that she had been wishing away only seconds before. Finally, she opened them then released a weak, silent whimper.
Bare feet. Muscled calves. She dared not look up any further. What was he? Perhaps she was wrong. Maybe he was a monster. How else had he been able to save her?
“I can never let you go.”
Harsh. Raspy. Booming. Ethan’s voice.
He didn’t bother to force Shay up from her crumpled fetal position.
The feet moved away, with a regal stride.
She knew, he was right. They were bound together, forever.
If he had a heartbeat, it was moving in sync with hers. Like a stalking phantom. She had sensed its presence within her chest as she tumbled down the side of the wall.
Wild. Erratic. Afraid. For her. For himself.
What had he done to her? And why?
Out of the dark, into the light. Shalise would never return to the life she had known.
Grabbing her hand within the grip of his much larger one, Ethan pulled Shay over toward the edge of the terrace. She allowed him to position her body in front of him, while he placed his arms on either side of her on the ledge of the cobblestone balcony. Upon looking out at the scene, she held back the shudder that threatened to rack through her. This was the very first time she had ever seen Rat City from this point of view. One glance and she received the confirmation she had been seeking. They were no longer at the bar. Instead, this compound stood far away, no less than a mile from the center of the urban wasteland. How had she never noticed this place before now? Probably because she had always been so focused on keeping alive and unharmed by keeping her attention trained no further than twenty feet in every direction all at once. From this position, no more than one story high off the ground floor, she could see that his property was circled by meandering paved pathways lined with large fruit trees as well as wide hedges and bushes that exploded with crimson long-stemmed roses. She also noticed many other details from her vantage point. One of which was the devastated city scape that lay beyond the perimeter of her kidnapper’s fortress, which was surrounded by a very high steel gate. It was then that Shay realized she was being held prisoner in a garden among ruins. What cruel trick of fate was this?
“Your kingdom.” As if to answer her unspoken question, the cool breath from Ethan’s whispered reply caressed the tip of Shay’s ear.
Ethan moved his hand from the stone railing of the terrace, and used it to brush Shay’s long, dark hair away from her right shoulder. The feather soft tresses had dried in to lengthy spirals that his fingers ached to run through over and over again during lovemaking. Without hesitating, he laid a kiss as soft as the wings of the butterflies he had once chased after as a boy on the curve of her delicate shoulder. After several more, she turned toward him with such teasing slowness that he was sure she felt the same heated desire now filling the expanse of his chest and the growing bulge of his groin. He thought she would loop her arms around his neck and bring him down to her for a searing kiss. He thought he saw a glimmer of affection reflecting back at him in the onyx-colored pools of her irises.
He had thought all wrong. With a sudden swiftness Ethan had not expected, Shay lifted her crooked arm then used the bony tip of her elbow to send a devastating blow to the bridge of his nose. He had not anticipated the hit and had not been prepared to block it, so the shock of the crackling pain prevented him from immediately reacting to block her daring escape. With cat-like agility, he watched in blinding rage as she hopped up on the edge of the balcony and tossed her legs over and, with one smooth swoop, disappeared into the blackness below.
The apple dropped from Ethan’s hand and landed with a soft thud against the carpeted floor. Without giving her time to flee, he pulled the female into his grip then twirled her until her back was pressed flat against his stomach and chest. The dampness of her wavy hair caressed the delicate skin of his nipples causing a low hiss of arousal to tumble from between his lips. The sensation urged him to hold her tighter. The need to feel every soft inch of her skin covering his own nearly overwhelmed him. Their connection sent a sharp jolt zipping through the thick muscles of his tense biceps and flooded Ethan with the heat of a primal need to claim her here and now as his bonded mate. Her shiver of fear only served to drive his lust to boundless heights – All Ethan could sense was Shay’s presence. The only sound he heard was the beating of her pulsing heart. The smell of her sweet innocence flooded his nostrils, drowning out any other scent. The feel of her slick skin skimming across the tip of his tongue as he used it to lay a delicious path along the curve of her neck made his manhood instantly harden.
Another current, nearly as intense as his thirst to devour the feminine essence of his woman, disrupted his thoughts. With great reluctance, Ethan pulled his lips from her quivering skin. He had to wait until the cycle of the moon was completed before taking her to his bed. The temptation to taste her, to arc his back and shoulders so that he could wrap his full form around her frame and consume her within his spiraling passion was dizzying. Never before had his attraction to a female compelled him to disobey his masters. No woman had every tempted his lust, his mind, his body and willpower…his heart…so thoroughly, nearly to the point of madness. He was so close to succumbing to the pressure of wanting her so badly that Ethan had no choice but to push the female away from him with one strong thrust.
One moment she was shivering with erotic anticipation from being held so tightly within the bulging strength of his arms, and the next she was being expelled from his hold and shoved forward. The motion was too sudden, causing Shay to lose her balance. Just before she tumbled down hard, a pair of hands caught her by the waist and lifted her to a standing position again. When her bare feet were planted firmly on the floor, one of the big hands that had just saved her from her fall moved in search of her fingers then twined both pairs together.
“Come with me,” Ethan said, as he gently pulled her across the room with him, “I have something to show you.”
“The queen is missing.”
Whispers from a fading dream ripped through her body, startling her from a restless sleep. Sitting up in the middle of the stuffed cot, she used the back of her hand to swipe away a heavy layer of sweat and oil from her brow. She looked down and saw that her hands were shaking. Her breath was ragged and she could barely breath. Her chest was heaving high with deep sobs that refused to release from her lungs. Silent screams were the worst. The burning behind her breasts was nearly unbearable, like the flare from a blowtorch was crisping her skin to shriveled shreds. When she realized what was causing the pain, she immediately recoiled. Her thin legs lifted from the edge of her shabby mat and yanked them back so that she could hug them to her chest and pin herself at the head of the bed.
With her back against the cool plaster of the wall behind the bed, her eyes watched the cause of her mania. The last beams of daylight were slipped through the thin slit used for ventilation and slid across the tiny single room quarters. Even the muted illumination of the pale orange was strong enough to cause a gnawing pain behind her eyes, forcing her to coward deeper into the darkness of the corner she was now trapped in. She shut her eyelids tight and buried her head between her knees, seeking desperate relief from the glow spilling into the assigned room of the apartment building. There was at least another full hour of torment to endure before the last drops of late twilight disappeared from the sky then sweet relief would finally come.
This was not the same world she had been born into. Somewhere along the way, everything had flipped. Night was day, and day was taboo – forbidden, dreaded, to be avoided at all costs…even lethal, like now. After so many years of hiding in the shadows, even the darkest skin was white as smoked ash and the palest skin was nearly transparent. A society of vampires? Hardly. A pack of ravenous heathens condemned to dwell in darkness? Very possibly that is what they had all become.
For the next hour, while the last embers of sunlight slid into a merciful twilight, she fought off panic and tried to ignore wispy strips of pain ebbing across her skin. The moment purple overtook gold in the eternal struggle for dominance of the sky, the first howls pierced the air. Strangled high-pitch screeches fill the early night. Time to move. And move fast.
Sometimes distractions serve the purpose of calling our attention back to details we overlooked the first time.