The Great Awakening.
Pretty, grandiose names meant to hide the end of times.
I had waited for this day for centuries. Long life was exactly as such, long, in days spent lonely, ripped from the arms of whom I was not allowed to love.
The palace walls dripped and shrank. I ran, the sound of my panting did not echo, the ice too thin to bounce it back. I wielded my magic but my power could not coax the walls to freeze. The Earth was reclaiming what we’d stolen but The Kingdom had prepared for such a day. I did not know how small a window I had to find him.
But by the Gods I would. He couldn’t be dead. They had tried. With fire. With saws as great as talons of winged creatures once called birds. I’d seen their pictures in old school books but he’d told me they were real. He’d seen them himself, back when his kind ruled. When the Earth still had life and abundance and color.
Before the Deep Ice of my Kingdom had settled into the furthest cracks of the world we knew. It had taken everything, including him. Those same school books told lies but he’d shown me the truth. We were a parasite, using up what the Earth gave freely, then moving on to purge warmer lands. Such was our way of life.
They hadn’t counted on their princess falling in love. Neither had I. Nor had he.
The pounding of my feet was masked by screams threatening to disintegrate the floundering walls of my home. The Kingdom was falling.
Ships were ready and waiting. The Thaw would free the waters to tide, and waves would carry us away.
The frantic screech of my mother’s call put more fractures in the ailing walls.
She screamed my name again and again and my shoulders sagged. There was more fear for herself in the tinny of her voice than there was concern for me. I had been shunned since they’d discovered my secret. All I had to do was wait out the destruction of the palace and she and my father and siblings would be gone. One dishonored princess left behind was not worth risking guards for a search or ships leaving port without the royal family.
A crash from above lifted my head to the ceiling and I leapt, throwing a jet of power over my shoulder. The dislodged ice missed me by a breath but I was thrown to the floor as it collided with my parents’ thrones, destroying itself and the royal settees.
What did he always say when I let him feed upon my life force?
“Quod me nutrit, me destruit, my Lux.”
It was a language out of a time long before mine. But it was beautiful. He said my name came from it. I’d learned some, he had promised to teach me the rest, maybe he still would.
Getting up, I dusted shavings off my arms and legs. Some had soaked into my clothes, turning them damp. The ice had never done that before, not on its own. I turned to look at the remains of the throne room, smashed and melting. The panicked cries from palace residents had stopped, they were gone, every one of them.
I was free. And alone.
The ground rumbled beneath my feet and I lurched toward the doors. Two tall frozen panels which opened and closed by magic now hung forlornly on hinges of waning spells and sorcery. I fell through them into the sleet and snow outside. Behind me the palace groaned, its inner-structure close to toppling. The dome sank lower and my eyes narrowed in pain.
I had never seen the sun shine. I’d beheld only its shadow, rising and setting, banished into the heavens by our clouds. Through their break it was released and it was magnificent. A golden orb of dazzling light, reflecting off the snow, blinding me as vengeance for the years of isolation. The palace glittered beneath the rays, its pillars reduced to trickling icicles. The whole of it would be a lake by sundown.
I turned slowly to face this world I hadn’t set foot upon since the culling.
The day where blood poured from trees, where the wind howled in pain, and the water froze in fear. The day his people were slaughtered by order of our king -my father. His Highness made his first of many mistakes that day, keeping the most able-bodied of the forest people as slaves. Working them until their spines bent and hollowed, unable to fight back against the frost that killed the life simmering in their lands, the same frost that nourished us, destroyed them.
His second mistake? Thinking his daughter was too cold to fall in love with the warmth.
My skin prickled, sizzling under the solar assault, and I ran, darting in between plots of shade. They were fading fast, cast by deadened tree boughs springing upwards with new life, stretching towards the sun. The ice that weighed them down for centuries disappearing as if it had never been.
Each second I was exposed had me burning, and I regretted wearing such little clothing, I'd never had much use for garments in the past.
“It’s here somewhere,” I muttered, conversing with myself to keep my focus. The Pit where they’d buried him when he wouldn’t die. They’d dug it deep, defiling the earth down hundreds of feet to keep him caged, filling it with ice, concealing it with snow. Ended the rite with an occlusion of spells so that no one, especially the embarrassment the king had for a daughter, could find it.
I arrived at the edge of the resurging forest, and a plain of sludge beyond its borders whispered menacingly in my ears. It had been a river in its former life. Water streamed against the surface still sheathed in ice. No shade to protect you here, Princess, it gurgled as it cracked the bars of its icy cage, melting it one molecule at a time, is the brief love you shared worth your life? My heart beat angrily at the taunts. My power was draining the higher the sun rose, but I had to try. I had to pay for what my family had done. To him. To his. Even if the price was my life.
Taking a step, my feet sank into the slush, further and further the farther I went. My skin was on fire, my hair a hellish crown of flames torching my scalp, licking my shoulders. I climbed out of the watery quicksand, exhausted, my power useless to reform the ice that was once my friend and I sank again.
“Please,” I begged of myself and the elements against me, “I need to find him.”
My feet hit a hard patch not yet taken by the river and I hauled myself out, my limbs shaking. Tripping and falling, a wet mass of heat and heartbreak, I ran into the wide unknown, cooling myself intermittently, but conserving my power. He'd been buried for so long, he’d be in need of its sustenance more than me.
The skin on my back was the first to fail. Dried and stretched, it split. A cry left my lips but my legs kept moving, his face the mirage ahead, towards which I ran.
I closed my eyes to shut away the pain, to not think about my body as the target for the sun’s understandable hatred. I only saw him. Felt only his kisses, as though they’d been given seconds before, and not a lifetime ago. His hands, rough-hewn like the forest he was supposed to protect, but still so soft, caressing my face, no blister in their heat. It defied my nature to receive his warmth, yet from the moment he'd been gone, I had felt nothing but the cold.
It felt so real that I missed my feet tangling in the roots that had resurfaced with the retreating snow. I fell hard to my knees and ice grumbled under my weight. It began to break around me, like a sheet severed from a glacier. It tipped to the left, then right, violently swinging. I looked down at where I had braced myself and my heart leapt into my throat in both terror and joy.
The entrance to The Pit lay beneath my hands. 300 years of separation whittled down to 300 feet.
The block swung again and I lost my hold.
300 feet of freefalling into darkness, I thought, letting out a scream no one would hear.
My fingertips ached as I summoned my power, aiming for the walls which had not been breached by the sun. Their ice slowed my fall, gliding me down. A wind so cold it made even me shiver blew up from below, smelling of decaying earth, of compost. I recalled the scent from the day my father burned the corpses of his brethren, some still alive. My heart seized at the memory and what he’d possibly had to endure in his years of isolation. What the dark had done to him.
I sent a spark of light carried by frost into the shadows, listening for a landing. It fell, far far into the deep, the black took its light but I heard the frost hit earth before it withered away.
The ice was becoming thinner this far into the void and my power faltered. It skipped in and out of my fingers, flickering, unmoored. Earth lined the last half of this hole and it reached for me, taking me in its sodden grasp and pulled me into the trench.
Mud and brambles of forgotten arbors met my face and broke my fall. My stockings were soaked and ripped, my hair, tangled by wind and dirt, stuck to my face, tasting of rot. I rose, quivering in the darkness, fearing the answer to the question of how anyone could survive this prison.
I whispered to the confines.
“I’m here,” I said, as though my presence could assuage the hopelessness that surrounded me.
Nothing stirred. I said it again, louder and all I heard was moist earth trapping my voice within itself.
My body jerked. The hair on my neck stood in warning. Silencing my breath, I let a light float in my palm, raising it in front of my face, slowly turning, my torso rigid.
“It’s Lux,” I said in a plea.
A rumble from behind answered me. It came from within the walls, low, angry. It sent vibrations through the earth, shaking loose the dirt.
I had stopped moving but jumped at the sounds of branches snapping and soil, compacted over centuries, being clawed apart. Whirling, I lifted my palm towards the tremors and gasped.
His great horns, like those of a full-grown ram, plowed forth, tearing at his earthly casket. They’d buried him upright into the walls. Half-man, half-beast, he’d been deemed a monster, but I’d had no reason to fear him, until now. He was not the heathen my people called him, but had The Pit succeeded in destroying his soul?
I took a step in his direction, my hands uneven in their quivers. The vines that bound him frayed and broke, and with a heave of his body the rest of the dirt came undone.
My Prince had been set free.
Dust swirled out of his nostrils on his exhales, furling in the air. His movements were convulsive, uncontrolled. He took no notice of me, cracking his neck, tongue darting between parched lips. When his eyes did land, they looked through my form. I saw they were cloudy, lifeless and a whimper escaped me.
I did not have time to react as he swung at the sound, slamming me into the wall. He was in my face, but no sign of recognition showed in his.
“It’s me,” I repeated, to which a snarl, and a flash of bared teeth was his response.
They had taken his mind from him, his memories. Everything that was him was gone. Even the rich umber of his skin had disappeared, faded to a dull, ashy gray. He had me propped against the crumbling dirt, sniffing, assessing. I couldn’t move, the pressure on my trachea growing stronger. My eyes fell to the light still floating in my hand.
“I’ll make you remember me,” I promised, throwing myself and what reserves of power I had at him. It knocked him aside and he stumbled back with a growl. I was barely upright when he lunged but adrenaline and a will to bring him back kept me in one place.
“Feed!” I cried, and slapped his face, forcing my energy upon him. It was the jolt he needed, he took it all and the light in my hand went out, the darkness consuming us both. I breathed in, feeling for him, hearing nothing but my own thundering heart.
Hands iron-strong locked around my sides, my cry died in my throat as teeth sunk into my neck. With so much of me already sapped, I went limp immediately, no fight, no struggle. The life in me began to funnel away. There was no light in this space but I saw stars, hallucinations of one on the brink of death. He’d never taken more than a mouthful, just a taste of me to whet his appetite, but the fangs that punctured my vein were drinking their fill of 300 years.
How fitting it was that the one who brightened my existence, for however fleeting a moment, the one whom I’d yearned for, would be the one to take it all away. A glow began to emit about him.
And with my diminishing heartbeats, shifting, echoing more distantly, I was thankful I could gaze into his eyes, searching for one shred of hope that he’d returned.
A kaleidoscope of autumnal hues- golds, burnt oranges, and greens stared back. First in bewilderment, then in horror at what they saw. I traced the edge of his face with my fingers and shut my eyes, my hand taking in the curves of his horns.
“Quod me destruit, me nutrit,” I mumbled weakly, quoting him, “I won't ever destroy you again.’
Dying in his arms was a thousand times more precious than living without ever again feeling the weight of their embrace.
But instead of the cold, a kiss enriched with the warm breath of life was pumped into my veins.
He’d never shared himself with me. His pure power. Of earth, of sand and light. Of waves dragged from the ocean’s depths, coldest waters heated by the sun, shining and pristine on the surface, hiding deadly currents underneath. Strong, unbreakable, silently dragging luckless sailors into their watery graves. He was giving the power of the green, nature’s fury and kindness. Such was the closest to the divine I'd ever been. It was blinding, sensual.
He clasped my jaw, and while his healing strength poured into me, my tears poured out. Down my face, wetting his hair, sprinkling like raindrops freckling his shoulders. He ended it with another kiss on my neck and then a bite, one of hunger but not for food or drink, but of a man starved of everything else.
I’d not known how famished I had been until we’d made this trade, fed upon each other’s life-sustaining nectar, it made me wanton for his flesh. I desired his physical form in all of me.
“Ardian,” I finally said his name like a prayer and a hymn, the sudden need between my legs awakened and unbearable.
“How are you feeling, my Lux?” He asked, his voice as balmy as the wonderful things he used to describe that I had never seen. Woolen blankets and cups of a drink called tea, steamy baths and bubbling hot springs. I had no knowledge of what these were, but for the fact that the timbre with which he spoke stoked my soul.
There were no words for how I felt so I watched him lift his head to the sky, seeking the sun which shone in a dot up above. His back straightened and wings, solidified and oppressed, plumed from behind. Their texture was of bark, dappled in white and brown regalia he called feathers, arranged one upon the other in a pattern, overlapping. They matched his horns, his every feature modeled after a piece from Mother Nature’s wilds to whom he belonged.
“Your Kingdom?” He asked tremulously.
“Gone,” I answered quickly, recounting The Thaw avenging the land, but then I confessed, “I had to stay behind.”
He looked at me as he had done on the day of his capture. They’d thought him a lowly servant, corrupting an innocent princess. His eyes had told me to stay quiet, to let them think the blame was with him. And it was for his sacrifice that I was prepared to do the same.
His kiss of gratitude made the ache below spread in all directions, stiffening my nipples. He gently lowered me to my feet and I clenched my thighs, remembering the one blissful night he’d taken refuge between them, before we'd been caught.
Consequently, my head dropped and I quickly averted my face to hide my blushing cheeks. He was just as I’d remembered him, exile had had no ill-effect on his non-ambulatory limb.
Though there was a trace of need on his face, I blinked and it was gone.
“We’ll have to climb,” he said, taking my waist, “my wings are still healing.”
I nodded nervously, thinking of the sun and her vendetta against my kind.
Each step towards the top filled me with anxiety and agony. Anxiety in not knowing what would befall me when I stepped out of the shadows cocooning me in the safety of the pit. And agony at the press of Ardian’s member into my thinly clothed backside.
Another swipe and a groan bubbled from my throat. I halted, bereft with need. Readjusting my grip, my body suddenly lurched in pain. Teeth had sunk into my behind and Ardian’s grip dug into my flesh, palming my tender bottom. On his groan my head fell back.
“Ardian,” I murmured, succumbing to the ache. I had to have him before it was too late, “Ardian, destroy me.”
Better he than the sun.
From where he was, Ardian grabbed my hips and spun me around, my back met the wall and his mouth found my center. I didn’t hold back the sigh that had spent 300 years in silence. My thin covering was shredded by his teeth, and he wasted seconds admiring me, wet and waiting, then his tongue flicked me lazily over top.
“More!” I wailed and grappled with his horns, using them to thrust myself into his mouth.
He cut a path into my folds and I squirmed further into that forked appendage, the ice along my back melted, heated by the scorch he’d provoked. He dove deep, and my body responded. Wetness dripped from my core, but he sucked me dry. Pressure was building in that small bundle which his pronged tongue straddled and teased.
I lost my footing, slipping us both off the wall, but he caught me around my thighs and his magnificent wings ballooned behind him, hovering us casually in the air.
They beat evenly, and I took a moment to lionize the man who raised his face to mine. It glittered with my dew where beams of light found him, illuminating his eyes that shone of golden fire.
“Weak in the knees already, Princess?” he smiled, his throaty growl making me tremble in his arms. The bare arch of my foot lightly rubbed the length of his shaft and Ardian’s hold around me tightened.
“No, my Lux, not yet,” he responded, throwing my legs over his shoulders, and dragging his nose into my slit, "first, I feast.”
I shouted as my folds received the heavy weight of his tongue. I wrapped my arms around his horns, bucking my hips wildly, losing myself to him again. Hands squeezed my behind, pushing me into his face and I lost my breath to the sharp succession of slaps that decadently wounded my behind.
He reached up, taking my hair at the root and bent me backwards down his torso, plunging his tongue back into my insides. My feet hooked into his horns and I gulped, suspended over the deep abyss below. My fear was replaced by excitement at what smacked my cheek. Hard and firm, his shaft pulsed out beads of a thick, milky tincture. The droplets gathered and fell, and as more oozed only to be collected by the undeserving pit, I craned my head, diverting Ardian and his moisture sideways into my mouth.
His wings strayed from their rhythm, dropping us a few feet, my stomach plummeted and I let out a muffled squeal.
“You’ll kill us both, Princess,” Ardian grumbled after he’d recovered, but then he paused, his voice low, “don’t stop.”
I folded my lips over his member. Together with his shudder, my eyes rolled to the back of my head and I moaned. Though I had it but once, I’d missed his heavenly taste.
He took up all the space in my mouth and still more of him lay untouched. I grasped him hard with my hand, pumping him into my throat. My lower body couldn’t find stillness, his tongue had expanded, licking every possible inch, no crevice left untended. My wetness ran down my abdomen, pooling under my breasts. I clutched one with my free hand, squeezing hard and panting as he began thrusting into my mouth.
Ardian burrowed inside me from top to bottom. He was so hard and swollen, I couldn’t keep up with him, couldn’t keep him contained in between my lips. I hung onto him, hoping he’d notice, and with a rough twist, he spun me so I faced his torso, then used his hand to feed me his cock.
I was faint, not from being tossed about, but from the dizzying euphoria of his mouth gorging on me. Hot breath from his laughter tickled my insides, and his tongue thickened, splitting in two within my channel. One half stayed buried, but the other returned to the outside world, whipping my clit before traveling along the cleft of my folds and into the chasm between my buttocks. I ground my hips at the new sensation, my legs wrapping more tightly around his horns.
I ran my tongue over each vein, giving him my face, my lips, my mouth, all the things he’d been deprived of by a wicked kingdom and its wicked princess. My breath was lost to the beast impaling my throat, and the churching ache of my release was precariously hanging on the tip of his tongue. Losing control over myself, my legs began to slide down his horns, my muscles exhausted of strength.
He captured my hips before I could fall away and flipped me right side. His lips were puckered, shiny, and dripping, nose showered in my essence.
“Ardian,” I snarled, snapping his head back by the horns. My tongue traveled over his throat, and I brought my lips close to his ear, “I said destroy me.”
His eyebrows rose and under his lashes, eyes of gold beamed positively feral, “be careful what you wish for, Princess.”
“I haven’t been touched for centuries,” I responded impatiently into the soft flesh of his neck, “I wish for it all.”
There was sweet vindication in claiming a love that was never meant to be. I was held against the wall of the pit, moist dirt and debris falling over my shoulders. A kiss landed on my lips, not gentle, but punishing, possessive. Coarse hands palmed my breasts, tearing the linen to expose my nipples, peaked and blushing.
His head dipped and a low hum gyrated over my skin. He rolled one into his mouth and in an unanticipated move Ardian bit down hard, sending my spine into an arch and my shoulders digging back. Dirt and roots crashed over us as I writhed, trapped. I fought back when air came back into my lungs, wrapping my legs around him. I heard a crack of limbs being transformed, of muscles and tendons rearranging. Branches sprung from his arms, twining where his fingers used to be and with a roar that shook the dirt he plunged them into the wall, becoming one with the earth and pinning me in place.
His cock hung in the middle and I looked down, licking my lips. I had a smidgen of power left and my hands went into his hair, down his neck and I let it loose. His wings fell away lifelessly, and his nipples stiffened under the break of cold. The skin on his back pebbled, muscles bulged and I watched my power render him prone, and speechless, yet smirking. A bead of sweat snaked across his skin and then another, I lapped them up slowly, teasing him.
“What are you waiting for, Princess?” He slurred into my hair, his breaths quickening, “I’m in your hands.”
I felt underneath and lined him up with my entrance. Keeping my eyes fixed on his, I eased him into my folds and took him inside.
His soft moans demanded movement and I began to ride, watching him slide in and out, each pass coating him with more of my wetness. My heels dug into his bottom which clenched underneath my feet, begging to be set free of my power. But I wanted to have my way with him first. I slid him out and held him just by the tip and he gritted his teeth. I gave him another inch and he growled. Working him such was making me perspire, but I knew as soon as this moment ended, there would be no guarantee of another. The sun was directly over us, waiting to have her revenge.
But I was weak-willed and lustful. Ramming him all the way in, I twirled my hips, and at the same time I let him go. A little grin of triumph crossed his face and vines grew, encircling my waist from behind.
He brought a knee to the wall and thrust into me, again and again. My back raked into the earth, scratched and bruised and I cried for him not to stop. His balls slapped into the curve of my backside, and I gripped around him, making him groan.
My head fell to the side as he thrust harder, gold eyes darkening to the orange of the setting sun. He swelled, stretching me with him, and my release screamed its way out, my nails bloodying the skin on his back.
“Brand me from the inside, Ardian,” I pleaded through my cries, “lay your mark.”
If I had to leave this world I wanted to leave it knowing I was his. He pulled his arms out of the wall and clutched me to him.
“Breathe,” he whispered, and on the next thrust he froze and light burst from the back of my eyes. Sharp spikes of pain and delirious pleasure tore me apart. He gave me a moment to settle into the hurt before slowly retreating and the barbs on his manhood scraped in me a coded map only he could decipher.
Tears flowed down my face as he did it again, branding me as I’d asked. His own release rushed into me like lava, and I twitched, ravenous for the heat and the pain. It flowed into the newly formed grooves inside me. My eyes closed and my body drooped, taking everything he gave.
We were both spent, and his wings splayed out, holding us up mid-air.
A gentle wave of his energy revived me and Ardian lay feathery kisses along my shoulder. The pain ebbed away and I looked into his handsome face.
“I love you, Lux of the Frost,” he purred, his wings taking us upwards, “always.”
“I love you too, my earthly Prince,” I replied happily, wanting to forget that over the edge lay my possible end.
I shut my eyes as he carried us out of the pit, shaking when my feet touched the ground. Soil curled between my toes and I opened my eyes to see the world completely transformed. Where there had been nothing but white and silver of snow and ice was now bogs and marshes lit and thriving. The earth had come back, nature had prevailed.
I breathed shallow breaths awaiting my sentence.
But instead of raining down fire, the sun embraced me, warming me from within. I looked at my naked form and my eyes went wide. My skin, usually translucent, was kissed with a touch of color. The hair that fell over my shoulders as well. It sparkled as gilded as the rays themselves.
“Oh!” I whispered, scarcely breathing in my utter rapture. I glanced up to see Ardian smiling down at me.
“Your power saved me in that pit,” he said simply, “all those years, it kept the ice from freezing my bones, shriveling my heart."
He touched me with his fingertips, "and mine will do so as well.” A garment of moss and leaves took shape on my body, caressing my skin in softness.
“And now?” I asked him, wanting a peek into the future that awaited us.
He squeezed my hand, a gesture of certainty within the untold.
“We wait,” he replied, “then when the last of the ice is no more and the sun mates with snow and life-giving water feeds the earth so it may birth its blooms, my kind will return and we’ll be ready.”
On my Kingdom.
“The seasons are meant to turn, Princess. There must be balance. The long winters of your kingdom spite the laws of nature.”
“We are going after them, aren’t we?”
Ardian nodded slowly and took my shoulders, “I should have stolen you away,” he sighed, his face tight, eyes rimmed with sadness, “saved you when I had the chance.”
“We’ve been given another,” I replied.
"So we have, my Lux, so we have,” he breathed a vow into my ear, “you are my soul, my sunlight, my Lux aeterna.”
And I was.
His light eternal.
A/N: THANKS SO MUCH FOR READING! I had a ton of fun writing these two and creating their world. I'd love your thoughts. Us authors go giddy when we get likes and reviews!
This story is complete but I'll be uploading two condensed versions of the same tale as additional chapters. A few people asked to read those versions and I'm putting them here for convenience ♥️ Same story, just shorter.