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Heartwood Forest, near a small, somewhat run-down cottage; the Realm of Evylon. Near enough to the city to see the white walls distantly through the trees, but not close to any large roads or paths.
Sunny and warm.
TIME: ~8 years ago. Morning.
Megiddo, Illiya (Blazeh), Ida (Zverin)
It was a calm, quiet day. A slight wind tousled the leaves amid the tall forest trees, pulled at the hair of one who crouched amid them.
Upon a thick branch some twenty feet above the ground was a man surveying the land with careful interest. Dressed in simple, but fine, clothing in teals and greys, long black hair pulled back into a loose ponytail. Teal streaks, not unlike the color of his clothes, were present in the black locks, most visible in the strands that fell around cat-slitted, golden eyes. Claws tipped his slender fingers, glinting in the sun. A single scar cut across his right eye, not yet having lost the pink shade of new injury.
However, his attention had slowly shifted from the forest vigil to more inward concerns. Memories persisted - memories of how he got here. He shifted position to look at the cottage behind him - a small home set into a number of trees, old but well maintained, and his expression softened.
He had been fighting for so long now. So very long. When he'd met Ida, he had been severely wounded - had collapsed in the forest he'd escaped to, and might have bled to death beneath the trees were it not her that'd found him. Lost in a haze of agony, he had lashed out at her, thinking her the enemy he had escaped... but luckily had been too weak and disoriented to do any harm.
She'd taken him to that small, quaint cottage before the rangers found him. She had nursed him back to health - had staunched the bleeding, healed his wounds, tended to him despite what she knew him to be. As he recovered, he got to know the woman who had saved his life; came to know her kindness, her gentle and endearing nature. When he'd fully recovered, he stayed for some time, seeking some way to repay the debt to her... and found that he had slowly fallen in love.
The day he had nearly died was two years ago. He had never left; and now... something flickered in the demon's eyes. Some bit of softness, some bit of fear. He loved her, yes - loved her more than the sun and the sky. And Ida, the beautiful elven woman that had saved his life, had just born him a child.
A baby girl; now not a week old yet. Quiet and gentle for an infant, with the beginnings of black hair and curious turquoise eyes. They had named her Illiya, after Ida's grandmother, and the precious child had become her father's entire world.
However, not all was as peaceful as it seemed. The demon had strong ambitions rivaled only by his fear - fear born of unrealized dreams. He had often confided such fears and dreams to Ida, such as they were, and he knew it was only a matter of time before his past caught up to him at last. For years now - centuries - he had been attempting the impossible: to become a n'vaen demon, something from nothing, abandoning his lesser-class heritage. The Death lethaos, as he was now, had once been a s'elath - his struggle to rise in power had broken the bonds of nature once, and he had been determined to do it again. Through possession, he had taken the body of a young dragon so many years ago, and had molded it to his purposes. After, he had assumed a form of his own - that of the black-haired man - and had locked the dragon's soul so deeply buried within himself it had little hope of ever resurfacing again.
Two years ago, his master plan had failed. That damnable knight, Red, had seen through him; had unleashed the powers he had gathered, and he was attacked on all sides by the Albronel's elite guard. Barely having escaped through a portal with his life, the demon had come here. And had never left.
Slowly, the man climbed down, somber gaze on the cottage. Walking towards it with a sigh, he meant to seek out Ida and their daughter; the two were never far apart.
A fire smoldered in him now; a nagging feeling that had been growing steadily over the last few months, invading his dreams and tainting his fears. He felt the familiar terror in the back of his mind... whispered words that had been with him since he was but a lowly s'elath pup, abandoned by his mother in the white forests of black Kurai. "You are nothing," she had told him."You will always be nothing."
And he feared that. He feared being nothing; dying ignorant, powerless, and unknown. He feared being washed away by obscurity, making nothing of his life, his ambitions. Most of all, he feared not having the power to protect his newfound family, restricted as he was by a lethaos' lesser qualities.
What he wouldn't give to become a n'vaen!
"Ida?" the man called softly, pushing open the door. "Ida, are you there?" He closed it behind him, and paused in the middle of the small, dusty common room.
She was looking at those beautiful turquoise eyes close slowly as she hummed a lullaby just for her. They opened again and she waved her body slowly as careful arms held her close to her chest. Leaning down she caressed her cheek with her nose and brushed her lips against her soft skin. They close once more enjoying the attention and with a soft sigh she started to fall asleep. Finally, the new mother thought. She kept moving slowly around the room until she was sure her breathing changed and she was deep asleed. Very slowly and patiently, she placed her down in a wooden crib they made for their little one. She stood besides Ida for a few more minutes just looking at her sleep and making sure she was comfortable. She was her life and love, along with her father. It was still hard to believe how much her life changed in just two years, but she has never felt so alive. No matter what she wouldn't change a thing, just like she told Megiddo several times.
Very quietly she went to the kitchen and started taking out some vegetables to prepare a soup. She turned on the fireplace and put water in a cooking pot after washing her hands. She hung it above the fireplace and let the water boil as she went to chop the leaves and flowers. Gasturtium and dandelion with malabar and cassava leaves. Lilac, hibiscus, and elderflower with sparragus, mushrooms, and beetroot.
As she cooked she thought of her loving demon. He had been away for a while and she missed him dearly. She hoped and prayed the gods he would come home soon. Who would know she would find love in a demon? No matter the thoughts and believes of others, she did and she had never been happier. He was so gentle and protective of her, always finding a way to make her smile without much effort. He had his goals and dreams and she always told him she supported him and that she would follow him anywhere if he allowed her to. Maybe it was love at first sight, but what she knew was that in just a few weeks he stole her heart. She didn't want it back. It was his now and it will always be. She hoped he could find what he was looking for and his every dream would come true.
She sighed contently and once everything was chopped as small as a sunflower seed, she poured everything inside the pot and added a bit of salt. She mixed it and inhaled the scent thinking if she should add a bit more of lilac. Thinking she heard something in the other room, she quickly went to see if Illiya was awake. Thank the gods she was still asleep.
She looked at her for some time until she heard the voice she was longing for so much. Magiddo. He was back. Her heart jumped with joy as she went back to the main room and her eyes fell on him. She smiled and placed her finger against her lips for him to quiet down as she walked towards him. She wrapped her arms around him and rested her head against his shoulder inhaling his characteristic scent. "Welcome back. Illiya is sleeping, she will wake up soon," she whispered softly, knowing their baby girl's naps never lasted long. She straightened up and gave him those blue eyes full of adoration and love as she gently cupped his face. "I missed you."
This post has been edited by Zverin: May 30 2018, 12:50 AM
She never failed to assuage his fears; her very presence was calming, and he lifted a hand to clasp hers with a smile. "I missed you, too," Megiddo said softly, kissing the top of her head. He wished he didn't have to talk to her about what he feared most - and... what he knew was to come.
He wanted to stay here, like this, forever. It was peace; it was tranquility. It was an existence he had never experienced before, and he didn't want to give it up. A shadow passed through his eyes, and the smile faded. He knew she would detect it; she always did.
The demon was afraid. How many nights had she comforted him when the nightmares came? How many times had she driven away the fear with a look, a word, or a touch? But it had been growing - a sense of animal instinct against growing danger, a feeling that the danger was coming closer and closer with each passing day.
"Come with me," he said quietly, gesturing to the window after reluctantly releasing her hand. The room felt oddly claustrophobic, and he longed to look out at the forest once more. Walking over to it slowly, he pushed the pale-paned window open and leaned on the windowsill with a sigh. He looked over to her, and his expression seemed pained. "Ida, I... I want to protect you. You and Lia both. But... I can't shake the feeling that I won't be strong enough, when the time comes."
She knew what he was; how he had become what he was now. And what he wanted to become, no longer simply for himself, but for them - his beloved pairbond and precious daughter. And the demon had told her what barriers prevented him from such a mission, an impossible goal he was determined to see through. But there was a hard reluctance about such a goal now; an unwillingness to leave them alone. Fear lay in that, too; a battle between two great terrors that was becoming too large a beast to fight.
"He's coming," Megiddo murmured. A cool breeze twisted through the air and wafted through the open window as he stared out at the trees. "I can feel it." His voice dropped to a whisper. "If I can't stand against him when he does, then..."
A smile graced her lips the moment he kissed her head. They stood like that for some time, just enjoying each other's presence. These were the moments she wanted to live forever, with her little family. Then he slowly pulled away and moved to the window. Oh, she got it now. He was thinking about it again. He often worried a lot about their future, about his goals and the dangers it brought. She knew this was very hard for him, and when he was worried she was as well, and scared. Not for her, but for him and Lia. She always hid it thou. She never showed him how worried or scared she could be. He needed to know he could do it and that she believed in him.
Ida followed and stood besides him as he looked at the forest and spoke his worries to her. She didn't say anything, allowing him to finish what he had to tell her. She wanted to comfort him, take away all the doubts and fears troubling his mind. It was until he said the last words that she stepped in. She put a hand on his shoulder and moved closer. "My dear, don't think like that. You have to be optimistic. I know you are very strong, and you should believe that as well. You will accomplish your goals, and I know you want to protect us." She stopped there and thought a moment.
She then smiled and took his hand gently, pulling him slowly to the other room. "Look." She motioned to their sleeping daughter and smiled. "You see... A person becomes exceptionally strong, when they have something or someone very important they want to protect. And we, my love, have this beautiful daughter together. I know you will do anything and everything for her, and for me. And I will as well. I will fight with you, Megiddo, because I want to protect you, and our daughter. Just as much as you want to protect us," she whispered softly to not wake up Illiya. "I know I can't do much... But I can do something, and I will. I just want to ask you a favor, dear."
She never asked him anything, but this was very important. She knew what was to come was very dangerous but she would always choose his and their daughters life over her own. "If anything doesn't go as planned. I want you to protect Illiya. No matter what, you will choose her, please. I knew the risks when I stated falling in love with you, and I wouldn't change a single second of our time together, because in these two years, I have been happier than any other day before I met you. you have given me a new life, a daughter, two persons I love with all my heart, and a happiness greater than anything I have ever felt." She hugged him and kissed his cheek sweetly. "Everything will be okay, dear. We can't control everything, that's the beautiful part about life. We never know what will happen, but we can try to make the best of it."
This post has been edited by Zverin: Jun 4 2018, 12:14 AM
The soft smile he'd worn when he gazed upon their sleeping daughter was harshly broken. He looked at Ida with an expression that was pained - surprise and shock in his cat-slitted eyes.
"Don't... don't say that," he said quietly, golden eyes dark. The surprise whittled down to a shadowy sorrow, and he took her in his arms and hugged her. "I'm going to protect both of you. No matter what happens." He rested his chin in her hair. "I swear it. I'll do anything to keep the both of you safe... anything."
There was a new darkness in his eyes; one that hadn't been there before. Something that flickered only briefly, and was gone by the time he released her. Only kindness remained there - a light that hid the brief shadow well.
He knew now what he had to do.
"When Red comes," he said quietly, "I'll be ready for him. I swear on my life."
She noticed how her words affected him. The surprise in his eyes was clear and she instantly both regretted and was glad about her honestly to him. She didn't want him to feel bad, at the contrary, she wanted him to be happy. To enjoy their time together. The three of them.
She felt him hug her and she quickly returned it, hugging him closely, gently but firmly as deep inside her she was afraid for him, for their daughter, for them. As long as they were safe, she would be okay. But he thought the same, he wanted her safe, and she would fight to stay with them. She took a deep breath and nuzzled against him. She listened to him and smiled softly at his words. "I know, dear. Thank you, but please, stay safe as well. I wouldn't know what to do without you."
He let her go and she looked up at him, he looked more confident now, even relaxed. His words confirmed her thoughts. She caressed his cheek and leaned closer to press her lips against his in a soft kiss.
Just then their little girl decided to open her eyes. She whined and moved inside her crib making Ida grin happily. She loved to see their daughter and Megiddo interact together. Moved to the crib she smiled at Illiya and lifted her up safely in her arms before walking towards her demon.
Nothing could melt his heart like Illiya could. He smiled and wove a small spell with his hands, crafting a bit of sparkling metal to swirl gently around the girl, making her babble in delight. "I love you, little one," he murmured, as a tiny bird dissolved at her touch, reforming into a minuscule bounding deer mere inches away. Then, his eyes lifted, and he smiled at Ida. "Both of you."
Three days passed; three days of study, of books and notes and crumpled paper and broken quills. He had hardly slept, spending his nights in the small and crowded study - his days were with Illiya and Ida, he never took those away. But more than once had he awoken at the desk, having nodded off over some old tome or while writing down a complex set of spells, one which he had to redo once he had shaken the sleep from his mind.
He had gained little insight on how to become a n'vaen; everything he had read from the Kuraian libraries he had gone to in the past said it was impossible. However, there had been mentions of even changing one's species - of elves that had been transformed into demons, dragons into humans, even a tale of a great leviathan being turned into a mindless lizard.
If those things were possible, then why couldn't a demon elevate himself in class alone?
The question dogged his every waking thought. His mind began to wander, even in the daylight hours, spending time with his pairbond or playing with his daughter. He seemed distracted, sometimes melancholy, but always returned Ida's questions with a smile.
It was on the fourth night he found an answer. Late, very late, a feylizard arrived on the open windowsill; he walked out of the study tiredly, and unclasped the note-tube attached to its leg, pulling out the small piece of paper to read its contents.
There. That may be the answer. For years, a Spirit King had been slowly descending into madness; he was becoming more and more unstable, and scholars who took an interest in the Realms of the Dead had noted his decline in great detail.
The Spirit Kings were incredibly powerful. More powerful even than the dragon royals and demon Lords. And this one... was on the road to death. If he could attain Linath's attention, and petition her to become this King... then perhaps he would win the power he had wanted for so very, very long.
But what Spirit Realm did this King hold sway over? None had said as yet. Was it the Soulplane itself? The Ghost Realm? Perhaps the Highplane in all of its glory...? Safe places, beautiful places, places he could protect his family in without fear of ever losing them.
The feylizard squawked then, and he shushed it quickly, hoping it didn't wake Ida from her slumber...