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WIP: Chapter I – The Fear Within, Part III

The night swallowed Tiyan, cold night filled with unknown fears.

The hungry, eternal night, filled with terrors. As a hunter, he met her very often, but never, ever he felt like this. It felt like darkness presses on his body, physically, and forgotten spells and curses sink into his heart and swallows all his courage.

He was sure all his family feels the incoming danger now, maybe they were terrified, as much as they never shared their real councerns with anyone, pushing fear and worry deep into well of their subconsciousness. But what spoke to him with coldest and most frightening voice, was the grandmother’s face. Like frozen in time, enchanted. Like something – or someone – sucked her life and replaced it with… another.

His father was a person who stands firmly on the ground, but even he had to admit that magic came too close to their home, None of them had idea how to chase it off. Especially while Gravir blamed him, Tiyan, of all that as connected to forbidden knowledge.

“We are having hard time already, fighting the winter” he told him late eveving. “Keep your curse leashed.”

Like he was able to! He blamed himself too, but he was almost sure his sister would not survive, if he didn’t help her. If he didn’t stop the possessed jaws from biting through her throat.

The young hunter inhaled the chill night air. Now, what happpened just few hours ago, seemed unreal. The courtyard slept, under a soft and safe blanket made of snow. How close they all were from being condamned? How many steps separated his family from death?

One thing he knew. It was not his fault.

Not. His. Fault.

When he returned home, he was so tired, that he entered his bed and almost immediately fell asleep. He was hoping he won’t be dreaming about the dog’s head falling near her bleeding body. Not about the scared eyes of his sister, growing bigger and bigger from pure fear…

*

Bigger.

Colder.

Tighter.

His clothes seemed to suffocate him. His body was crystallizing, touched by the merciful sun, blessed by the cruel moon.

The forest palace almost blinded him. Created from the dark crystal, it seemed almost unreal. The forest surrounded him, speaking to him in an unfamiliar language. The trees seemed to sing a song from which he felt small and insignificant. It was full of longing, pain and nostalgia as if the boughs were crying for long-gone times. Tiyan stretched his hands before his eyes and didn’t recognize them. They were transparent, shimmering like crystals the palace was made of, reflecting sunbeams like diamonds. His body was light as if he was made of smoke or the glow of the setting sun, the dawn full of insufferable beauty.

He forgot about fear, he relished over his new form. He didn’t remember who he was, but he knew he was not part of this world, and this form had been offered to him to see the palace and hear its song.

In front of the palace’s crystal gate, creatures with pointy ears moved, airy, as if woven from cobwebs, from summer gossamer. They didn’t look at him as if he wasn’t there. Most of them wore green and blue. He couldn’t see the weapon or feel enmity, but he could feel the darkness everywhere. He floated in the dark light and primal splendor of the palace and its inhabitants.

Then, as the song of the trees rocked him like in a child’s cradle, he heard a voice. It was young and brought to mind the sound of the stream on a cold winter’s day.

‘Tiyo…how long will I wait for my faithful servant?’

Normally, Tiyan would have to slap anyone who would call him his servant. But the voice hated opposition, even if it seemed to belong to someone much younger than him. It was the voice of the ruler.

‘I have a right to you, and the seed has sprouted up. Magic is tormenting you, isn’t it? How much easier would it be to take off the shackles and go to a place where it’s natural to cast an enchantment, to enforce your will. Where you’ll be safe. The pain must be unbearable, my innocent winter child. It’s sweet to see your suffering, but my grace is boundless.’

Tiyan wanted to answer, but couldn’t speak, like his mouth were sewn up.

‘Soon, I will send for you, and you will not be able to refuse.’

Tiyo suddenly felt that his real body is coming back, and the creatures in front of him started to look at him, their gazes dark, expressions cold and undeciphered. He didn’t belong to this place, not in this body. But did he belong anywhere?

He woke up sweated in his dug-up bed. He sat down, the wet linen sticking to his skin. He was defiled, cursed. The fae will never give him peace, whoever he was. He hid his face in his clasped hands.

As long as he had his own will, though, he won’t allow him to own his life. He was not weak. He was not a slave and never will be.

His head fell on the pillow again. Not a slave.

Now sleep.

He was going to hunt tomorrow, even if only for a hare or a quail. Do what he was best in. And chase the sucking feeling of lack of control he felt.
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Forest is where I belong. My gods live there.