The Demon Queen and the Faery PrincebyNephylim©
The cell was cold and dark and decidedly damp. It was hewn out of the rock of the mountain and the walls were rough and, in places running with water. It gathered in a channel that ran though the middle of the cave, providing the many occupants their only water supply. Sometimes, if the Queen had been blending potions and thrown the effluent into the lake, or had been expending unusual amounts of dark magic over the water, it became contaminated and everyone fell ill. Sometimes it was more than that. Some of the more long term occupants had changed form more than once.
There were many occupants of the cell. Some were prisoners but others lived there. Many had been in occupation before the Queen had enlarged the already existing cave to make the cell. The only entrance or exit was the heavy iron door set into one wall which was several feet thick and led into a long narrow tunnel that wound in a circuitous manner to the surface, coming out in the higher levels of the palace dungeons.
There were no windows and the only light came from the phosphorescence on the walls. Once every day the guards came and threw food onto the floor and it was a free for all as bodies came out of the shadows on all sides and descended on the meagre scraps of sustenance that would keep them alive for another day.
The natural inhabitants generally did not take part in this as they had found their sustenance here long before the Queen came and they, or their descendents would be there long after she was nothing more than a bad dream. Their ancestors had been there before the mountain rose from the sea, their children would be there when it crumbled to dust. They lived in the shadows, in the water, in the air.
The unhappy prisoners who were imprisoned here were aware that they shared their living space with other beings but they rarely saw them. They feared them as people will those things they don't understand. These prisoners were almost always proud and haughty when they arrived. They were invariably important people, often political prisoners. The pride didn't last long. It couldn't compete with the hunger. And the haughtiness died when they realised that this was likely to be their home for a very long time.
The Queen never came down here. Why would she? The only prisoners who were put here were those she didn't want to ever lay eyes on again.
This morning a new prisoner had been added to the collection. The guards had brought him in and dumped him unceremoniously on the floor. He had not moved since. Unusually the native creatures had taken a great interested in the still bundle of very expensive rags and shadows swarmed over them. Because of this the other prisoners stayed away.
At first the humans were curious. As soon as they heard the lock slide back on the door they knew something was about to happen. Their nostrils flared and their stomachs growled with the hope of food. When the guards dragged in the unconscious body they had a brief impression of a slender figure and long tendrils of silver white hair that completely covered the face and half the upper part of the body. They had no idea if it was a man or woman, old or young.
Their curiosity waned when the shadows started to crawl. When the first of them crept over the crumpled heap they lost interest completely.
Another shadow detached itself from the deeper pool under an outcrop from the wall and crawled across the floor. It licked out to touch the body and then it began to rise. The humans crouched against the wall and gibbered with fear as the shadow swirled upwards until it was roughly human shaped and gradually solidified into the shape of a young man. Although solidified might have been the wrong word. Dressed in muted tones of russet and brown with gently curling hair of the same colour kissing his shoulders, he was transparent, so that it was possible to see the phosphorescence on the wall of the cave behind him through his body.
The man dropped to one knee and touched the body. It didn't move. Gently he gathered the scattered strands of hair and moved them aside, leaning over so he could see the face. When he did so he froze and simply stared.
The boy who lay at his knees was the most exquisite creature he had ever seen. He was so pale that his skin seemed translucent and the blood that flowed beneath wasn't red. The long white hair had a silvery tinge that, when viewed in sunlight, even better in moonlight, wasn't silver at all but incandescent like the wings of a dragonfly. The lashes that trembled on the white cheeks were almost transparent and fluttered like the wings of a butterfly. He was unconscious but not at peace.
The nut brown hand which reached out to gently touch his face was trembling and the moss green eyes were wide with horror and disbelief. For a moment the figure crouched over the pale boy and then abruptly it dissolved leaving only a puddle of shadow that seeped into the floor of the cave and was gone.
For a time there was silence. The shadows crawled around the boy but did not touch him. The humans huddled against the wall and watched suspiciously. None of them dared approach him.
Everything was still and silent. The shadows moved, they eddied, little swirls rose from the floor like tiny tornados. The chilly cave grew colder. The water in the channel iced over. Frost formed on the iron door. The humans shivered. There was a shimmer in the air near the unconscious boy and a figure appeared, outlined in ice, formed of shimmering translucence that held no warmth and only the slightest hint of physical form.
Although there was nothing visible the watchers caught details through the corners of their eyes, seen only when not looked at directly. The frosted hem of a long skirt stirring up the shadows that clung to it like dust. The glitter of diamonds adorning a slender throat and long pale hand. The shimmer of pearls encrusting a tight bodice.
The figure that was not there knelt before the figure that was. Gently, hesitantly, the white hand reached out and touched the white cheek. Ice blue eyes caressed him from the crown of his head to his torn and bloodied naked feet. Fire flashed and the icy eyes melted to blue fire. The light of the flames filled the room and burned coldly.
The eerie light illuminated the form of a tall slender woman with a face of such beauty that this alone had the humans cowering against the walls as if they wanted to press through them. The face, although beautiful was set in a mask of fury and the eyes flashed with anger. Slowly, delicately she reached out and lifted the cold, limp hand holding it briefly to her lips. Her fingers caressed the heavy silver ring on the middle finger.
Laying the hand reverentially back on the slender hip she threw back her head and howled. It was not a howl that any animal or human throat would be capable of. It was elemental, like the scream of the wind. It shook the cave and the foundations of the palace built above, it radiated like the aftershocks of an earthquake for many miles. Although there were no words to the howl its meaning permeated the very fabric of the world. WAR. Far above, in a crowded hall it was heard and the cruel face of the creature who heard it smiled.
In the cave all was silent. The icy figure was frozen, her head thrown back, the long white hair brushing the ground behind her. Slowly she raised her head, her face set in lines of sorrow and rage. At her signal the shadows danced and the semi transparent, earthy young man slowly emerged and sank to one knee bowing deeply. There was no sound, but a breath of wind. There was no movement but the whisper of snow on snow. But they all heard the message as loud as if it had been screamed.
"Deva! Stay with him. Care for him as you may. Report to me. There will be war for this."
"As Your Majesty pleases."
And then the figure became a shimmer, the shimmer became a blur and the blur disappeared. Deva rose from the bow and looked around. Carefully tearing a strip from the shredded robe the boy was wearing he took it to a place where water was running into the still frozen channel. Placing the rag under the flowing water he made sure it was entirely soaked. The huddled prisoners watched in wonder as this ghost like figure performed such a natural physical act.
Holding the wet rag carefully Deva carried it back to the boy. He knelt and lifted him into his arms. He was utterly unresponsive. His head hung back over Deva's arm, his hair sweeping the floor behind. Gently clearing the long tendrils away from his face Deva parted his lips with one finger and squeezed the rag into his mouth. The water trickled from the sides as the boy made no attempt to swallow. With a sigh that swept through the cave like wind through the forest he dropped the rag onto the floor and held the boy close to him, crooning a song without words. His eyes were closed and his face intense.
They made a strange contrast. The muddy brown boy with skin the colour of oak bark. His silver and white companion with skin like fine opal. Yet somehow they complimented each other. Yin and Yang. The earth and the sky. Night and day. The glow from the one made the other seem more solid, more present, even while it made it's creator less so. The word that, had any of the prisoners been thinking clearly at that time, might have sprung to their minds would have been... elemental. They would have been mostly right.
Time passed, as time will. It could have been moments. It could have been days. It could have been years. Time had little meaning in this place. With no day or night, nothing to mark the passing of the hours it served nothing other than to bear witness to the whiling away of lives.
The sound of the bolt sliding back startling them all. Deva's head shot up and he stared at it with something like fear on his face. Gently laying his companion on the cold stone floor he dissolved into shadow which sank into the earth. By the time the door swung open there was nothing but a lingering odour of damp earth which went unnoticed by all.
The guards came in first. They stood on either side of the door, two on each side facing out. At first the prisoners began to crawl nearer in the hope of food but there was none offered. Soft footfalls were heard in the passage outside, accompanied by the tinkling of tiny bells. They immediately scuttled back again to cower against the walls. The stared transfixed at the figure who regally lowered her head and glided into the room.
Tall by human standards she stood over seven feet high but was in perfect proportion. Her appearance was startling; from her shapely, mostly naked body, to her raven black hair bound in a long braid hanging over one shoulder, twined with gold and threaded with pearls. Diaphanous robed swirled as she walked, multi coloured and sheer almost to the point of invisibility. Apart from a waistband of red leather studded with rubies from which hung a short skirt of glittering studded leather strips she was naked beneath.
The most startling thing of all was her face which was incredibly and terrifyingly beautiful. Although her skin was as blue as the ocean it did nothing to detract from the beauty which was further enhanced by her regal bearing.
She was a Queen. Of that there was no doubt. She wore a crown of pearls on her head and carried a jewelled staff surmounted by a diamond the size of a goose egg. She was a cold and terrible Queen. She was a demon. The eyes that stared haughtily from the glorious countenance were red and burned with a demonic fire that left no one in any doubt about her nature and the tips of her long and slender fingers were clawed and venomous.
Glancing around once she smiled. The baleful eyes missed nothing. She had been here. Oh yes. She had come. She had seen. Well let her see. Let her go back to her pathetic kingdom and declare war. She had already lost. Here and now the final battle would begin and it was a battle that She, Queen though she was, could not win.
"Show yourself you pathetic creature. I know that you are here. I can feel you. Your Queen would not have left her precious son alone in my hands. Does she think that I am a fool? There are wards on this chamber that not even you can break, Lord of the Cold Earth." She spat out the title in a voice that dripped with scorn. That was not his true title of course but it did not do to speak such things out loud. Especially not at a time like this.
"No doubt you are to be her messenger, to report to her about the welfare of her unfortunate offspring. I am afraid that I have bad news for you to impart. I do hope that she does not turn her anger upon the bringer of the message. It would be most sad for two noble lords to be lost to her in one day."
The air eddied as if it was itself angry with her words but she just laughed. It was a full rich laugh and it boomed around the cave, bouncing from the walls.
"I have a message for your Queen, fey one. Tell her this. Tell her that from this day on her Aster Ganos (bright star in Greek) her precious Psukhe (meaning soul - Pronounced Suki)is and always will be mine. Bear witness to my power. Stand as the recorder of this auspicious event. Mark this day, when The Queen's son perishes and mine is conceived. Take careful note Deva for I will expect you to convey to you mistress in great detail what is about to transpire."
No breath of air swirled the shadows at her feet. Indeed it was as if the very earth itself held its breath and waited to see what she would do.
Smiling the Demon Queen held out her hands palm down the ghastly red claws like clots of blood dripping from the ends of her fingers. Whispering across the dusty floor the rags that had clothed the prince's body seemed to take on a life of their own and slithered away from him, leaving him naked. The Queen smiled, her black lips curling mirthlessly.
Turning one hand palm upwards fine silver chains shot from her fingers and wrapped themselves loosely around the prince who was bourn upwards as if lifted by invisible arms. He hung there suspended. His feet almost touched the ground. His back was arched and his head hanging back, the glorious hair draped over one shoulder and then cascading in frothing abandon to barely inches above the floor. His face was pointing straight up at the ceiling but his body was tilted as if the arms that were holding him were not straight. One arm was at his side, held either by the silver chains which seemed to be binding nothing, or by the invisible body in whose arms he lay. The other hung limply almost touching the floor.
In this position the contours of his body were accentuated, utterly laid open to anyone whose eyes slid hungrily across his flat stomach, or lingered on the smooth pale skin on his long shapely limbs, or the delicate curve of his shoulder. Those same hungry eyes might linger to admire the beauty of his softly rounded hip or rise to the promise of his long slender neck, presented in all its glory by the angle of his head. They would have been disappointed though if they had sought to espy his manhood for the chains which swathed his loins were thicker and concealed what every eye in an honest head would admit to being the ultimate object of their survey.
What everyone who stared at the glory of the suspended body had to admit was that it was the epitome of perfection. There was no flaw anywhere. No spare ounce of fat or flesh. No blemish. No deformity of any kind. He was perfect. Not even the deep purple bruises on the side of his face, running down over his shoulder and ribs, could mar that beauty and only enhanced it, speaking of impermanence and bringing the only colour to the marble paleness of is form.
Somewhere the air eddied in what sounded like a sigh and the Queen laughed. "Save your breath Deva. There is so much more. Keep your sighs for when you truly have something to sigh about."
Still laughing the Queen stepped forwards and ran her hands over the body which hung at just below chest height. The boy shuddered in his sleep as her fingers traced the lines and curves of his body, lingering in places to the tinkling of silver on silver.
"Ah sweet boy. Do not shrink from my touch. Soon you will welcome it. You are so pale, so cold. You need fire in your veins and I shall give it to you." She leaned forwards and kissed him deeply. With a sigh the incandescent lashes shivered and lifted to reveal eyes of stunning topaz which gazed sightlessly upwards.
The Queen caressed his face and smiled deeply. He remained unresponsive as she touched his hair, his lips, his cheek. With one claw she drew pictures lightly on his skin. Over his stomach, his chest, his shoulders. Tilting his head further back so that his empty eyes stared into her face she hooked his hair and brushed it away from his face and throat.
"You are so pretty my love, but oh how cold that beauty is. Have you ever felt the touch of a loving hand? Have you moaned in the throes of passion? Have you tasted the sweetness of another's body? You will my love, you will. I will release you from the chains that have bound you since your birth. Chains not of silver but of fear and selfish love. Here, with me you will be free." As she spoke she ran her claw up and down his exposed throat but there was no reaction.
Laying her other hand against the side of his face she caressed his lips with her finger while she stared deeply into his eyes. "It will just be a little while my pretty one, just a little while and you will be mine. Such a small price to pay. Such a short time to wait. And at the end... and eternity at my side. You shall be my prince, my heir, the son I have never conceived. But you will be so much more. The leader of my armies, the warmer of my bed, the father of my children. This and so much more shall be yours...when you are mine.
"Forgive me my love. If there were a way that this could be done without pain then I would seek it but to be sure that you are wholly mine I must fill your veins with my fire and it will burn you. But do not fear. It will not kill you. And in three days, when the fire dies, I will come for you and you will take your place at my side. You shall be my prince, my consort, my love. Remember this when you burn. Remember... this..." She leaned forward and kissed him, then she plunged the claw of her right index finger into his neck, her lips still clasped to his.
His entire body jerked and convulsed against the bonds but the movements appeared to have little conscious volition to them. His hands clasped and unclasped, his own nails digging into his palms. The Queen smiled against his lips continuing to pump venom into his body. When she raised her head, his chest was threaded with fine red lines as if veins of fire were running through the marble. She continued until his entire body was veined with her burning energy.
When she withdrew the claw he shuddered and his body twisted, writhing in the chains which tinkled musically with the movement. Smiling the Queen ran her hands over the hot body which glowed with an eerie red light. He trembled at her touch. She stood at his head and stroked his face, crooning to him as his body arched in torment. His lips opened and closed, flecked with bloody froth and his eyes were changing. Now the turquoise blue was trapped within a ring of flame.
After a time the fire faded and the boy hung still and limp in his bonds. The Queen, still stroking his face leaned forward and kissed him gently on the lips. He groaned deeply. Lifting her head The Queen smiled fondly at him.
"Sleep now sweet prince. Soon you will begin to change. I wish that I could make it easier for you but unfortunately pain is part of the process. Just relax and let it happen, it will whether you fight it or not. It will be so much easier for you if you don't..." she bent and whispered in his ear, "...but I would be so disappointed if you didn't."