Mira Ch. 15bysecretme©
Okay guys, it's been a fun ride, but this is it. Mira is over, sorta... Tee Hee... You'll find some hints in the epilogue. I've got a few ideas that I'm going to use. Don't take that wrong. I'm not doing a sequel to Mira. I'm going back to Leader of the Pack now. Yes you all heard me right. Keep an eye on my profile. You should be seeing more chapters of LOTP hitting Lit shortly. As for you Mira lovers, there is a revised version of Mira that will be available. And it is significantly different in some respects from what has been on Lit. Send me a feedback or check my bio info for more information on that...
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"Absolutely not," growled an ancient voice from the back of the room. Echoes of agreement bounced from one side of the room to the other.
Lilith waited for the group to calm down. "I fully expected the reaction would be thus. Still, I propose that we all consider what I suggest." Knowing the value of letting others come to the correct decision on their own better than most, Lilith sat and allowed the various factions to argue.
"It certainly would solve a couple problems. Firstly, we wouldn't have to worry about sacrifices any longer. Secondly, if we wanted him to leave, he could."
"At the very same time, what prohibits him from merely going at that point, whether we want him to or not?"
More rumbling filled the room as people voiced their concerns about giving Rillan a way to be free of them.
"We still need protection."
"Well maybe this kind of protection isn't right any longer."
"What do you propose?"
"Get rid of the vampire. If we're going to start using the ancient rites again, then perhaps there would be a better solution to our protection than the vampire."
"Yes, something not so frighteningly dangerous."
"We need an army."
"An army whose loyalty is in the right place."
"One that can't be bought off."
"An army that doesn't need our blood!"
"Give him Mira."
"Yes, give her to him."
"She wants to go. Let her."
Lilith waited until the general consensus seemed to favor sending Mira back to Rillan. "I wish it to be made clear what we are suggesting here. Immortality is not a gift given lightly. Our people decided long ago that death is necessary to bring meaning to life. Without it we found that people fell into patterns of depravity. Without consequence it is difficult for a human mind to resolve questions of morality. Rillan ap Tiernay was made into a monster on purpose. It was believed that his existence in death would remind him what he had been granted."
There was silence in the room. Most of the elders at some point had been told the origins of the vampire and why the ancients had chosen to create such a thing. Even so, those lessons were long ago and no one in the room seemed even a little hesitant to revisit the rites.
Lilith could almost see the thoughts floating about the heads in the room. "Do we still want to grant Mira something so precious as eternal life?"
"Lilith?" The voice that spoke was small and quiet. The woman who spoke rarely said anything, but when she spoke everyone listened. It was assumed that she would one day take Lilith's place. "Why do you insist upon leading us all by the nose? This is the point where the room has been cued to argue that Mira's consequence is to live eternally with the vampire and is therefore just as cursed as his existence. You have your way on this. I believe that the entire room has agreed. Enough guided debate. You skirt the true issue. We may have unleashed another."
No one had wanted to speak to the thought that Aris may have survived the fire. Now it had been said aloud.
The small woman continued to speak. "So we create a companion for Rillan. And we face the possibility that Aris has escaped and we've unleashed something terrible. Is that a topic we are going to discuss? Is there even anything to discuss? Can we change it?"
Arguing continued for hours. Loudly and quietly, sometimes even violently, people proposed solutions to dealing with the possibility that an insane vampire had escaped their village.
The storm had been threatening all afternoon. Darius ap Jos watched the sky through the tree branched with an impending sense of foreboding. It was nearly dark enough to call it evening instead of afternoon. With a sudden thunderclap the sky opened up. Even the cover of the forest foliage wasn't enough to keep the rain from soaking through his cloak.
"Fucking hired Empire scum," Darius swore to himself. "If they had only listened to me."
Spending most of his time walking in unknown directions, scavenging food, and blaming the Empire for his failure was leaving a bad taste in his mouth. It was all he could do to keep himself from believing that Marcus had sent the storm. No matter how he tried, Darius couldn't think his way out of this one. He wasn't welcome at the Circle and he was no longer welcome in the Empire.
"I will find a way. When I do, they'll all pay."
Spotting a small cave mouth in the side of a hill Darius ducked in out of the rain, praying that it wasn't occupied. It looked the perfect home for a bear or worse. The rain was too heavy for him to think about it right then though.
"Who is he," Aris asked herself under her breath. Rain pounded so loudly she almost didn't hear the strange voice.
He looks familiar. I don't really know.
"Poor soul. He's so wet and bedraggled. You could help him."
"No one wants to wander alone. You certainly don't."
Do you think he would want to come with me?
"Of course. What man wouldn't want what you can give? What woman wouldn't want it?"
I don't, Aris whispered.
"You're a cowardly child. Anyone else would give anything to live forever. Even their very souls."
I don't think they would.
"You don't know human nature very well. Trust me. Have I lied to you?"
Somewhere in the black of the cave Darius thought he may have heard something. Turning he stared into the abyssal darkness. Nothing.
Even Helen had tried to convince Liam to wait for the elders.
Adamantly Liam shook his head. "They all knew when the handfasting was to happen. It isn't necessary for them to be here. I'm not waiting for anything else to go wrong."
All of the decorations had been washed away by the storm. Mira loved the clean smell of rain. It was as if the fates were reassuring her that the ceremony wouldn't happen. The entire clearing was a mess of trampled scattered plants and flowers. There was no convincing Liam that the ceremony wasn't going to happen. "It's alright Helen," Mira said softly. She fiddled with the pendant around her neck as she spoke, not really looking at anything. "The fates seem to rule my future no matter what I do. If this is what is meant to happen—"
"Finally some sense," Liam interrupted. He took Mira's hands in his, tearing her fingers away from the pendant. It fell in slow motion to land on Mira's chest between her breasts. As he took her hands the surrounding druids began to sing.
No joy or true feeling could be heard in the song. The druids were tired and upset that Liam was being so insistent. He hadn't even listened, when he was warned that after such tragedy and upset there was very little chance that they would be able to summon any of the fey.
Voices droned on into the stormy sky, singing the familiar words without emotion, and a few lights began to blink and flicker around them.
"That's enough, Liam." Lilith's voice was enough to bring an end to the song and the ceremony, without hesitation.
"What do you mean by this?" Liam seemed on the verge of tears. "I thought we had your blessing Lilith."
"Liam," Lilith sighed in obvious frustration. She rarely allowed her emotions to show through. Between the meeting she just left and Liam rushing into the handfasting, she was losing her patience. "Even if the elders had no ulterior motives in canceling your handfasting, I venture to guess that you are intelligent enough to recognize that Mira is the only sacrifice left. Is there any chance that you may have attempted to push this through before the meeting finished in the vein hope that if you had already staked your claim to her we may not have sent her back to the vampire?"
If not for the anger in her tone Liam may have tried to deny the accusations. But he would have been lying and it was obvious that would only make matters worse. Releasing Mira's hands, the cord meant to bind them together fell to the ground at their feet. "Mira," he said softly, not able to look her in the eyes.
"I'm sorry Liam. This just wasn't meant to be." Mira wished she could take his pain away. He merely had the bad luck of being in the middle of a very difficult situation.
"He'll never be able to love you the way I could have," Liam said softly.
Reaching up Mira brushed Liam's hair back from his face and placed a gentle kiss on his forehead. "Perhaps not. Still, I need to let him try. You don't have to understand."
"That's good," he answered angrily. Finally he looked up at her, tears on his cheeks. However his eyes were hard. "I never will." With that Liam turned away and left the stones.
Mira turned toward Lilith. "Is there nothing that can be done for him?"
"Your heart is too good at times child." Lilith shook her head. "There's no need. He'll get over this and take a different wife. He'll be fine. Liam is a good strong man. He'll learn that he's capable of loving another, in time."
Mira nodded. "I guess this means that I'm going back?" Fear and excitement blended together in a frustrating combination that had her stomach turning a bit.
Lilith started into her eyes as if she was reading the motivations there. "Yes. The elders have decided to send you back. There is some preparation that must be done. Return here at sunset."
Dismissal obvious in Lilith's voice, Mira walked past the parade of various elders who were entering the stone circle. Each of them eyed her curiously as she passed. Sunset seemed to be forever away.
"What have I done?"
It took Rillan an eternity to realize that Aris left. Barely enough daylight streamed into the cave mouth to show that day had come. However, it was enough to keep him inside. Roaring with frustration Rillan turned toward the darkness and stomped back down the hall. There was nothing else he could do about the situation right now. He couldn't decide if he should go after her come nightfall or if he should notify the elders and wait for their direction.
She could be anywhere, by the time they get back to me with any kind of decision. I'm not supposed to leave the caves unless under direct order. Rillan wrestled with himself. Play the part of the mindless servant-- Stopping in midstride, Rillan tried to get a hold of himself. He could feel the anger boiling throughout his body. He wanted nothing more than to bring the entire mountain down on himself and lie buried for a few centuries. Why shouldn't I be mindless? Look what I do when I think. Drive them insane, drive them away, kill them, bleed them... Roaring pain and frustration echoed down the halls and out the cave mouth.
Exploding down the hall Rillan began tearing at tapestries. He knocked a number of doors off hinges and burst into his practice room. Wood splintered, metal crashed against walls, fabric ripped and riddled the floor. Centuries of collecting was destroyed in moments.
The standing stones glistened with the remnants of the afternoon rainfall.Mira stood perfectly still, white shift blowing in the breeze. No one asked if she wanted to change her mind. No one spoke directly to her. She watched with a combination of awe and fear as the elders finished placing small clay bowls containing mud-like mixtures at the base of each of the nine stones.
As the druids moved amongst the stones they sang softly in unison. Mira thought she recognized the words, but somehow they didn't make sense. Slowly the entire circle began to shift around her. The ground seemed to move. Mira opened her mouth to speak, but couldn't find her voice. No one else appeared to notice. They all went about their tasks with efficiency. Finishing they each turned to face Mira and closed in around her.
Mira's perspective shifted and she found herself looking down on the ceremony from above. With detached curiosity she watched the druids remove her shift. Standing naked amongst them, she was suddenly grateful for the strange dizzying sensations. One of the men produced a bowl of the mud colored substance. Each of the druids dipped fingers in the bowl and began drawing runes over Mira's body.
Muddy runes covered Mira's breasts and stomach, ran down her arms and legs, dripped along her back and across her buttocks and thighs. As the druids finished the runes on her body, tiny lights began to blink around the circle. With the song's crescendo the lights solidified. Tiny fey circled frantically, dipping close to Mira.
Distracted by the fey, Mira didn't notice when all the druids left the circle. As each of the small fey blinked out of sight Mira found herself standing alone. The muddy runes burned into her skin. Her shift was at her feet and the moon was nearly at its apex.
Confusion coursed through her. Embarrassed by her nakedness, Mira grabbed up her shift and pulled it on. Gauging by the moon, Mira guessed that she had been in the stone circle for hours. I don't feel any different, she thought with concern. Though that was the only truly coherent thought process she could manage.
Not wanting to return to Liam's home and having nowhere else in the village to go, Mira's thoughts turned toward Rillan, the cave, and what she had come to regard as comforting darkness. I'm to go to him. But should I wait for the ceremony? There's nowhere else to go. I should ask Lilith.
Stumbling from the stones, Mira tripped her way down the forest path toward the village. When she finally looked up, she found herself standing outside the gate that surrounded the cave mouth. One of the young women who attended to Lilith stood silently staring at Mira. A ghostly expression fogged her beautiful brown eyes. Trance-like she swung the gate wide.
Her actions were almost frightening to Mira. Spurred on by the strange behavior of the girl at the gate Mira almost ran to the cave. Stumbling haphazardly down the hall Mira tried to call out to Rillan, but her voice continued to fail her.
Entering the main halls Mira began to wonder if she was hallucinating in addition to the shifting floors. In the black Mira tripped over tapestries that should have been on the walls, splintered wood that should have been doors, and other piles of things she couldn't identify. It was getting harder and harder for her to keep her feet. Mira had no idea how long she stumbled about in the dark. If not for how well she knew the halls Mira knew that she would have been lost to the darkness.
Between the effects of the ceremony and the strange piles of rubble in the halls Mira found herself more and more confused. It seemed to take forever, but she managed to find her way to her bedroom door. A sense of comfort and safety flooded her senses as she crawled down the hall. At least this hall is free of clutter and rubble. Running head first into her bed Mira pulled herself up onto the soft silken sheets.
The last thing she remembered was hearing terrifying shrieking echoing through the halls. Rillan will protect me, she thought, pulling the blankets up around her and allowing sleep to take her.
Waking from a fitful sleep, Rillan found himself sitting in a corner of his bedroom beneath a pile of books. His head throbbed. Vaguely, he remembered having a great deal to drink and then trying to find a solution to his existence in one of the many useless books in his library.
Rillan stared at the ceiling. He refused to look at the mess he was going to have to clean up. At least fixing the mess should keep my mind off everything that caused the mess in the first place, he thought with little actual hope. The rising sun peaking at the edge of the open shaft urged Rillan to move.
With a heavy sigh Rillan stood up. He considered the next thing he should do as he picked his way through the mess on his floor to the shaft and forced the door shut. At least I didn't knock this door off its hinges, he thought. With the shaft covered he began a list in his mind. I'll write a note to the druids to tell them about Aris. If they don't already know already. Then I'll get to work putting this disorder right. He laughed sardonically. Maybe I'll wait for the next sacrifice and have her clean it all up.
Rillan stacked the books in his arms and carried them down the hall. At first he couldn't place what was wrong. There was so much chaos in the hall that he didn't notice, until he was on his way back to his own room for another load of books. Mira's rooms. Was I in there?
Placing his hand on the door handle he almost pulled the door shut, assuming that he had been the one to leave it open. But he couldn't remember having gone into her rooms. There was a minute hope in the back of his mind that he refused to admit to. Perhaps I've gotten lucky and that girl isn't gone after all. If I get hold of her and destroy her then I might not have to admit to the druids what I did, he thought shamefully, not wanting to acknowledge the other thought in his mind.
Seeing the lump in the bed dredged up all the anger from the night before. Tears formed in his eyes. He refused to allow himself to think that it might be Mira. That vampire bitch has no right to be in her bed, Rillan's thoughts were like acid in his head. Furiously, he threw the blankets back. Standing stunned, he didn't know how to react at first.
Sudden cold woke Mira from her nightmares of fangs and blood. Opening her eyes to blackness, she could imagine Rillan over, tying to stomach into knots. I wish I had started a fire, she thought. Her mind raced with uncertainty. Finally she decided that he had to be there. No other explanation made sense. "Rillan," she whispered. "I'm sorry. I was the only sacrifice left."
"What?" All Rillan could think was, she's back. Why is she back?
The annoyed sound of his voice sent a jolt through Mira's body, and she forgot her fear. Rising to her knees on the bed she moved toward the sound, reaching out she found the blanket first and took it from his hand. She didn't know what to say or how to make him understand what she had done and why she was here.
Rillan reached out and stroked the hair back from her face. "I believe I could be lost in those deep brown eyes."
Mira smiled, feeling his gentle touch and hearing the need in his voice. Placing her hand on the back of his, she closed her eyes and nuzzled her cheek against his palm. "I missed you," she admitted.
"I don't believe I will ever understand you," he answered. Leaning down he kissed her forehead, her temple, her cheek, and finally her lips.
Passionate fire exploded in Mira's chest and burned its way throughout her body. Her breathing grew shallow. She was scared to open her eyes, not wanting to find herself dreaming. I can't believe how much I missed this.
Mira felt the shift being pulled from her. She waited impatiently to feel his hands on her body. She knew they would be cold, at first. Met with nothing but air she fidgeted. "Rillan?"
"What have you done," he said breathlessly.
"Nothing. What do you mean?"
"You're covered in runes, Mira." She flinched at the anger in his voice. "What did you let them do to you?"