Malignus

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Beautiful Cage

Orynicus flew through the palace with no regard to the poor onlookers wandering around. If a man had been so pushy in my village I would surely consider taking a leg to his groin.

It was rude, at the very least.

Yet, not a soul yelled obscenities after us, threw spoilt stew at our shoes, or even dared glare at the flying circus.

Just as I thought it, he was making risky turns and bumping into things.

I wanted to berate him for his disregard for the safety of others. His flying was worse than a sloshed coachman driving a half-dead mule.

The movement pained my eyes. I could not look any longer. I shut them tightly.

All my head knew were the lurching and up-down-up-down’s my heart felt.

“Tch,” Orynicus clicked his tongue, displeased. I ignored it. “You are unwell from crossing.”

What?

I stopped to ponder the meaning of his words, my conclusion cut short by the feeling of touching ground. I peeled open my eyes. They stung. It was my own fault.

I peered back at Orynicus, who looked solemn. He slowly eased me onto the floor. Not a word, he said. I was still stuck on what he said moments before.

“It is normal for me to be ill this way,” I countered, unconvinced of his heretics.

He shook his head. His face warned me he was not being light. Orynicus was certain. Of what, I was still not clear.

“I am going to send for the midwife,” he stated, giving me no say.

I watched as he cracked open the door we came through, now closed, and heard him speak briefly. He did not leave me to my own devices. I had fooled him twice, and thrice he would not bend.

I turned away, surveying the new space. It was vast, much larger than the cottage interior, and with the same, high ceiling. The bed was much too large for my tastes. It was long. I felt a deep hatred thinking why it might have so much room. It was not meant for one person, nor two.

Warmth spread throughout my frame as I felt a presence behind me. Orynicus wrapped his arms around my center, holding me softly. I broke away. It would not be that easy to fall into my favor.

“I am going to rest,” I said, heading over to the bed I had such vitriol for. It was an attempt to gain some semblance of control.

Orynicus simply bit his lip, choosing not to comment. I lie down on the criminally comfortable sheets. He followed. I could not win.

I was starting to favor the bed. I would move as far away from him as I was able. His stare drilled through me, and in the heavy silence, I felt it was a triumph at last.


Beneath the honey-colored sheets I had fallen asleep. It was a rest much needed. My aching body made me weak. I could not be weak.

As I sat comfortably in bed I glanced across the room. Fear rippled down my back.

The image of an impish creature with sharp talons passed through. Black horns, ghostly pale skin, and a gaze devoid of emotion. It looked at me through a mirror. Though I should have been afraid I was not.

A strange sense of familiarity swept me.

Then, in a flash it was above me. I was frozen where I lay, only able to stare at it as it ripped my chest open. A baby’s cry pierced the room, drilling into my ears without a care.

Arms. Arms were holding on to me tightly. I became aware that I was no longer frozen still. Body drenched in sweat, arms shaking, shallow breathing. I had been visited by the Devil in my sleep. He knew what I had done.

I was unable to move from the spot, though nothing kept me any longer, nothing tangible, nothing but fear. The warmth of a slight touch calmed me. I could not care if it were Orynicus. Softly, he pressed his lips against my neck. I sighed.

“Are you alright?” he asked.

I shivered at the thought of that creature.

“I am only shaken. You may release me now.”

I peeled him off me, despite my yearning to stay, and crossed the room. I found the mirror from my dream. If I were not already superstitious I would now be so. Without a thought, I began to lift the heavy thing and face it away from the bed.

“You will injure yourself. Cadia. Let me,” said Orynicus, stepping in and turning the mirror with an infuriating ease. He surveyed me as I stood there. It appeared as if he were unsure about something. “The Midwife came while you were asleep.”

“Oh?” I merely replied, feigning interest.

He frowned, seeing through my facade. “She scolded me for flying you here,” Orynicus looked at me with hard eyes, “it could have been bad, but the baby is fine.”

I almost laughed. It was supposed to be morbid. Something about him admitting his shortcomings was humorous, though.

“What did she say about the blood?” I asked, changing the topic so I did not make a fool of myself.

His eyes flashed momentarily. I could not tell what emotion it was, for it was so fleeting. “That you are out of nutrients for yourself and the baby, and must eat proper meals,” he added with a hint of pompous joy.

The fact that we were both in trouble with the midwife sapped away any laughter bubbling below the surface.

I twirled a strand of my auburn hair around my finger. “I dreamed of the creature from the book. It hid in the mirror, waiting to rip me open,” my voice cracked as I recalled the sight. If I did not speak it I would forget.

Orynicus smiled grimly. “Mirrors hold memories of the past, and dark memories are strong,” he paused, “is that why you faced it away?”

I merely nodded.

Orynicus stared silently, angrily. I did not think he was angry with me. He was angry with something I could not comprehend.

The tall man strode the two steps it took him to reach the mirror. I watched in fear as he turned it back around before smashing it with his fist. Shattered glass littered the mahogany carpet. His eyes were as empty as the mirror frame. I stayed silent and waited for the storm to pass.

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