Welcome to the first part of the second piece of fiction I'll be posting this A to Z Challenge. This one is unusual - I'm not even sure it constitutes a complete story - but I'm sharing it with you as an interest piece, a perhaps not entirely successful experiment, that despite that has been popular with a number of readers.
This piece is unique amongst all those I have written in that it is the only one that touches on using third person omniscient. It also draws heavily from some reek rhetorical devices - as I said, an experiment of sorts.
If you read Dragon Bait, you'll recognise this story is set in the same universe. If you haven't read Dragon Bait - what are you waiting for? Check out Burning: Dragon Bait (Part 1).
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The angel wept. The stones wept. The night sky wept.
Beneath the standing stone stood a man. The stone pressed cold and wet against his cheek, and he hunched thick shoulders against the persistent drizzle. Though his head was bowed with the weight of his burdens, the yellow gleam of demon eyes reflected in the moonlight.
His name was Dagon.
Memories paraded through his thoughts; the lonely birth of his son, and the desperate flight through the highlands of Avaril to this forsaken, crumbling ring in the wilds.
Water streamed down each stone still standing in the ruined ring, cascaded off the lintel stone of a surviving archway, and dripped from the edge of Dagon’s hood. A puddle formed around his boots, and the scent of wet grass and dirt floated on the night air.
Beneath the meagre shelter of the arch knelt the angel, still weeping, while the nameless baby screamed. Annael would not name him; Dagon could not. No name fit.
Dagon’s eyes snapped open, and he slammed his big hand against the unforgiving stone. The silent circle of stones offered no response to his mute anger.
He rounded on Annael. ‘You can’t do this!’
Annael lifted her flawless face to look into his eyes. Tears and rain left her beauty undimmed. Her pearlescent skin glowed, transcending the rainy night’s attempt to dampen everything it touched, and her wings stood proud behind her lithe figure, defying water the way only Ishafal might. The light of the torch, flickering fitfully in the meager shelter of an arch, revealed black hair and moss green eyes deep enough for a man to drown in. Dagon had drowned.
‘We have no other choice.’ Haunting as pipes, her voice lilted through the rain.
A dizzying whirl of passion, of obsession, engulfed him; emotions formed from the essence of the magic of the ardesco. The ardor swept him up in its wave, and crashed him against the shore. No Ishafal or demon could fight the power of the ardesco.
‘There is always a choice!’ Dagon strode to Annael and seized her by the shoulders, the half-demon, half-Ishafal child pressed between them.
Annael’s wings spread in agitation, and the baby’s wailing continued unabated.
Dagon’s fingers tightened in her flesh. ‘Fight them!’
‘They cannot be fought. My brethren are of one mind.’
‘I will fight!’
‘And you will die.’ The beautiful music of her voice echoed with a grim note of finality; a dirge in the rain. ‘And then he will die.’
One tear dripped from her bowed head onto the angry red cheek of the squalling infant. She jiggled him, and soothed him with a whispered snatch of melody. The baby’s eyes closed with a soft sigh, unable to resist the siren song of an Ishafal.
Dagon whirled away, running agitated fingers through the dark hair plastered to his skull, and smoothing the scales at the nape of his neck. ‘Barbarity! And the Ishafal insist we are the ones who are base and evil! Never would we kill an innocent child!’
Anger flashed red-hot through him. He pounded his fist again against the unrelenting hardness of the standing stone. The crumbling ruins of the circle, the fallen lintels of broken arches, and the shattered bluestones, all echoed the crumbling of his life, his heart, and his soul.
Annael stepped closer, taking his hand in hers. He shook her off.
‘Dagon, you, better than the humans, know the truth of the Ishafal.’ With one elegant, long-fingered hand she drew the knife from his hip. ‘They are coming. They can sense me; they know where I am.’
‘Then go! Leave us, if you must. Lead them away from here.’ Shoving the blade away, he lifted the baby from her arms. Dagon’s heart ripped with the effort of shouting the words against the obsessive compulsion of his love; a love seeded too deep in his heart by the magic of the ardesco for him to ever be free.
Numb, he stared at the painful beauty of her face, at the peaceful, sleeping features of his son. Annael eased the child from Dagon’s arms.
A hollow ache blossomed in his heart. ‘I must protect you both, and you tell me I can’t?’
‘You can protect him.’
Again, she tried to press the knife into his hand. Again, he curled his heavy-knuckled fist against her.
‘He is only half Ishafal. Without me, the connection will be broken.’
‘How can you ask such a thing of me? How?’ Dagon’s voice hitched, choked by emotion he could not express. ‘Do you even comprehend what you ask?’
Her flawless face turned towards him, tear-stained and broken. In the unplumbed depths of her eyes, he saw that she knew. Like him, she was helpless as a leaf in a waterfall. Like him, she was a victim of the curse of the ardesco, to which any Ishafal or demon might succumb. She was well aware he must battle against his irresistible, desperate desire for her in order to carry out her wishes.
‘You must.’ Her voice cracked; one discordant note in a perfect symphony.
Dagon snatched the dagger from her, and hurled it away. The hilt smashed into a fallen stone. The weapon bounced, striking a sharp counterpoint to the quiet, restful drizzle of the rain, and fell into the mud with a splash.
Annael’s head snapped around, her gaze scouring the rainy darkness. ‘I sense an Ishafal. There.’
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Keep reading at Sentenced to Death:Love Enough (Part 2).
**AUTHOR'S NOTE: This fiction piece is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge and has not been to an editor.**If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven't already. If you're finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or sign-up to my newsletter. Check out my March Newsletter if you missed it.
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