Thursday, October 28, 2010

Shadows and Light Prologue

So the third chapter is well underway, but it won't be going up on Literotica for a bit.  I'm fighting hordes of purple prose at every turn, so I can't honestly vouch for the quality of this snippet as I haven't had it beta'd yet.  However, I promised, and additionally it's Tiffany's birthday and she is a fantastic person, so she should get a present.  So here.  For Tiffany.


Clare, the Bright City, was burning.

What had begun as an isolated explosion in the heart of the Upper Half had quickly spread thanks to inattention, confusion and the fact that the explosion occurred at noon. No high ones could be out and about then, not without risking their lives in the sun, and many of their human servants had scattered with the blast, wilting under the violent transition from placid to fearful. What they feared varied from one individual to the next, but every resident of the Upper City was attuned to the nameless anxiety lurking there. The cold, haughty serenity that had reigned for half a millennium was crumbling, buckling under the corpses of dead ideas suddenly resurrected in all their terrifying mortality. Change was coming, and the servants feared it almost as much as their masters.

No one in the city had expected the change to happen quite so fast, however.

Two men stood on the far shore of the lake in which the island city sat, watching the towering flames. They couldn’t hear the screams, not from here, but they could well imagine them. They’d been hearing them only an hour earlier, after all. Human screams, the twisting roar of tumbling masonry, the groaning opening of cavernous sinkholes. The very fabric of Clare was disintegrating. Not all of it would go, not yet, but the end had well and truly begun.

“It’s not right,” Rafael said finally, breaking a silence that had endured the length of their trip to the mainland. His eyes still stung from smoke and the fumes from the barge they had ridden on.

“It’s not right or wrong,” Xian said, his voice flat and uninflected. “It just is.”

“So many people are dying—”

“And so many are living. And so many are already dead. This is a disaster, pet, uncontrollable off the mark. Don’t even think about trying to take it into yourself.”

Rafael turned and stared at his master. His lover. They had been lovers for less than a day, and already the sense of obligation that Xian felt towards him had precipitated the inferno on that distant shore. “If you had given me to Myrtea, this wouldn’t have happened.”

“Clare has always been a doomed city,” Xian replied calmly. “It was doomed from the moment we first discovered the source of eternal, damning youth. The end has been looming for longer than any of us had the wit to realize. My refusal to give you to Myrtea merely forced Fate’s hand.” He looked directly at Rafael, white eyes glowing orange in the light of the flames. “I do not regret keeping you. Not for an instant. Neither should you.” He held out his hand, the heavy black cloth that protected him ripped and revealing moon-pale skin in several places. Xian reached out to Rafael and Rafael came to him instantly, settling into arms that had murdered dozens today, hands that had set a city on fire to keep him safe. Xian smelled of smoke and ash and stale blood, but Rafael couldn’t help but take comfort in his embrace. He was Xian’s. His apprentice, his failure, his burden, his lover. His.

Xian pressed a kiss to Rafael’s brow, then his cheek, then his upturned, seeking lips. The parts of him that wanted to rage and scream and fly into a million pieces melted away with his master’s kiss, even though Xian tasted like Erran’s blood. God’s blood, the gift and the curse, the withering spring of immortality that might yet take Xian from him. It was the taste of life, and death.

“I’ll get the horses,” Xian murmured against his mouth, then gently disengaged from their embrace and turned, slipping away into the darkness of unsettled forest. Rafael stared again at Clare, hating to see it but unable to look away. The solace he felt knowing his own loved ones had escaped the bloody battle and conflagration was a guilty source of relief. He stared, wishing he was numb and cursing inside.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.



  1. I just realized that I'd be a terrible editor. I'm sure I could be picky and find errors if I tried...but my problem is that I get so wrapped up in the story I forget all about grammar and punctuation and just wanna keep on going. I loved it just the way it is! Keep up the excellent work! I really love these characters and am very anxious to follow them on their journey...wherever that may lead. :-) Thanks for the birthday gift, by the way! It made my day.

  2. This story has been a bitch to write, but it's finally coming together and I think the end results will be satisfying. I feel bad for making people wait so long, but with me when the muse doesn't happen, forcing it just produces crap writing. Thanks for reading and loving, hon, and again happy b-day.