Thorn of Hearts

“Ouch!  Oh…ouchity…ouch…ouch!”  Li-eira practically hopped on one foot as her body processed the painful prickling of a vine of thorns.  She had been reaching for one of the loveliest pink roses and had carelessly neglected to see the patch of briars that was protecting it.  Ugly red welts were already chasing the scratch up her arm, and the thumb that had helped disentangle her from her predicament was now weeping slow plump beads of blood.

She sank to the ground, the pretty pink rose forgotten, as the high grass embraced her and tickled the bare skin around her ankles.  She watched mesmerized as each drop of vibrant red blood, bubbled to the surface of her tender finger.  She was about ready to stick her thumb into her mouth in an infantile display of self pity, when an old memory seized her.  Perhaps it was the sight of the blood reminding her of the first time she’d seen her own, or maybe it was the raw emotion of pain, but in that moment her past swallowed her, in very much the same fashion as one of Giacomo’s illusions. 

 

She could see Gabriel’s handsome face as clearly as if he were really there.  Her heart raced at the memory, as if she were there with him again, as if she didn’t know how badly it would end.  She even remembered how sorrowful she was in the months that led up to that painful day.  How he had patched up her freshly broken heart, making her whole again before he ripped it out anew.

Oh…how she had missed Gabriel’s older brother, Drew.  Just as handsome, but so much more sensitive and intuitive.  …that’s why he had left.  He knew the true value of family and wouldn’t sacrifice his brotherly bond for the love of a woman.  Not even the beautiful path mage, Li-eira. 

Gabriel was not without his charms, quite the contrary, if anything it had been his hypnotizing affect on her that had made Drew’s steadier approach more appealing.  She had thought more than once about how perfect it would be if Drew had a spot of Gabe’s dashing, or if Gabe had a dash of Drew’s composed intellectual side.  …but it wasn’t like that, they were both enamored with her, their personalities as different as night and day, and she had to make a choice.     

Li-eira shook her head to clear it as she watched another drop of blood trickle slowly down her hand.  She twisted her wrist, just in time to detour the dancing blood’s race to the ground, making it come instead, to pool in the palm of her hand.

The same palm that Drew had kissed tenderly, the same hand he had held on so many star lit walks.  He was a lovely quiet man, but the night always had a way of bringing the stars out of him.  She was so silly then and she had loved to make him laugh, to break his solemn face with the rarity of one of his bright smiles.

It was rare for Li to think of Drew.  He had been her favorite of Master Johnson’s nephews, but he had hurt her when he gave up too easily on gaining her heart and her affections.  She couldn’t have known at the time that the reason he had left was because he had seen his brash brother, Gabriel, stealing an uninvited kiss from her.  Ever the imp, the younger brother never stopped his relentless pursuit, even after the soft spoken mage born had asked him to.

There was never an opportunity for her to know why Drew had left or for her to defend her actions.  Instead she had felt wounded, abandoned and confused, unable to understand what had gone wrong when everything had felt right, slow…painfully agonizingly slow, but right.  Once Drew was gone she had sought comfort in Gabe’s ready arms, her poor judge of character failed to see how he had swelled with pride when his brother fell out of the scene.  The idea of finally beating his intellectually and physically superior brother at something, a prize that far surpassed any of their other brotherly feuds, had him rolling in confidence and conceit. 

The something that had made him willing to betray and trick his brother, was the virginal innocence of the breathtaking pupil of his Uncle.  Looking back on everything now, made Li-eira realize what a fool she had been, how Gabriel’s charm had made her blind and stupid.  At the time, however, it had felt good to feel wanted and desired, to be told the things she wanted to hear after a childhood of feeling worthless and after the man that she had grown so fond of, disappeared without so much as a good bye.

The droplet of life slivered towards her wrist and slid over the delicate lines of her arm before falling to soil the crisp clean blue of her freshly washed dress.  There the trickle finally stopped as it bled into the fabric covering her breasts.  Her eyes became mournful as her pristine garment was defiled with her own blood, the fingers on her other hand came up to lift her button out of the way as three more drops rained down upon her dress.

One by one she remembered Gabriel undoing the buttons down the front of her dress, as she lay on her bed in Master Johnson’s cottage.  She could feel his arousal pushing through the thin fabric of his trousers as he leaned over her, to lay a trail of rushed kisses down the bared flesh between her breasts.  She was trembling with the combined emotions of excitement and fear, her nerves too raw from the past weeks to allow for proper thought.

It wasn’t until one of his hands slid under the delicate fabric of her panties that she froze, the unexpected sensations of pleasure that rippled through her made her realize for absolute sure what was about to happen.  She laid one of her trembling hands on top of his, in a silent request for him to stop. 

He had paused for her, bringing his head up to hers as he laid his considerable weight against her.  She could feel his hot breath on her neck as he whispered to her, reminding her of his need, he’d spent days explaining his need to her.  His desires and wants, explaining the pain she caused him when she would deny him, until she was guilt ridden and sorry for her naïve explorations.

Her continued silence was the only reassurance that he had needed.  His hands had become clumsy in his rush as he reached down to work at the buttons of his trousers.  The feel of his fingers brushing against her delicate undergarment and the pressure of his unleashed manhood had caused her to gasp.  Everything was happening too fast for her comfort and she was about ready to protest, when he pressed his lips urgently against hers. 

Her gasp became a sigh as she returned his kiss, she loved his kisses, every one of them laced with passion and excitement.  He was so bold and demanding and up until a few moments ago it had been intoxicating to be led on such a fantastic emotional trip, through unexplored territory.  But now that her legs were swept from underneath her and she was pinned between his need and her bed, she wasn’t so sure. 

The blood had formed a shallow pool in her palm, and Li-eira found herself suddenly disgusted by the sight of it.  She pushed her hand hard into the ground and began wiping it off in the tall blades of grass.  The pain in her thumb was acute and she finally stuck it in her mouth, caressing it lightly with her tongue, as she tried to massage the pain away.

…but that kind of pain wasn’t so easily massaged away.  Not the kind of pain that stabbed at one’s mind, body, heart and soul.  She could hear Gabe’s groan of irritation as she finally scrambled out from underneath him with a nervous giggle.  Things were going too fast…which, while not entirely unpleasant, there were things that he needed to know about her…first.  She could still hear that conversation in her head.

“Gabe!  Shhh….for a second.”  Her voice had been serious, a part of her didn’t want to stop as much as he didn’t want to stop.  She was acutely aware of the parts of her body that were coming alive and she was experiencing the most interesting kind of shivers.  Her heart was rejoicing at how Gabriel loved her, and how he would do anything to have her.  …but her secret, her dreadful awful secret, had to be shared before she could share herself with another.

“I still haven’t told you something.  …something important that you need to know about me.”  She had looked at him with her pale blue eyes, eyes full of hope and unspoken commitment.  “You…might decide that you don’t want me, once you know.”

Gabriel had laughed at that.  “Oh…Li.  You do have a flare for drama.”  He’d pulled her back into his arms by that point, one of his hands tracing circles around her belly button.  “You know that I love you.  Nothing you can say will change that.”

Li-eira clenched her eyes tight at that memory…the last truly pleasant memory she had of Gabriel.  The breeze picked back up as the sky began to darken, she thought she could smell a storm coming…and the thought of the coming storm sent a chilling shiver down her spine.

Oh…the shivers…how splendid that shiver felt as it radiated upwards and down as his gentle fingers tickled her stomach.  But it was his, ‘I love you’, his promise of acceptance that had amplified the desire within her.  Her tone had become playful as she artfully dodged his next attempt at a kiss.  “What if I was an evil enchantress?  Surely you wouldn’t love me then.”

His voice was a bit muffled from his nose and mouth tickling down her neck.  “I would become one of your evil minions, and bow to your every desire.”  His tone was patient, but he obviously wasn’t enjoying her little game of ‘what if’.  Again his hands were distracting her, his weight shifting to pin her and his mouth was kissing the flesh above her pounding heart.  The desire was swelling within her, begging her to let him show her more.  She wanted to experience whatever sensuous end came when a man and woman discovered each other.

“What if…what if…”  Her voice was raspy then, she’d barely recognized it as her own.  He’d slid his hand under her skirt again and had successfully pulled her delicates down to her knees.  She could feel his arousal pushing pleasantly through the thin linen of her skirt, his fingers slowly gathering the material, bit by bit trying not to scare her, anxious to claim his prize.

“Gabe, I’m choshu…I’m half choshu.”  Her fear and nervousness had fallen away and her secret tumbled out of her mouth, so eager was she to discover more of this passion.

It was his eyes that punished her first.  They were full of disbelief and betrayal, but what followed wasn’t the acceptance that she had expected to see, instead they grew cold and angry.  His hands went still and his face contorted in rage. 

There was so much pain and anger visible in him that Li-eira’s pounding heart clenched in fear.  A lifetime of warnings about not telling anyone her secret came raining down on her, and she had realized that she could be in actual danger.  The man in front of her now was obviously not the man she thought she’d fallen in love with.  Apologies came tumbling out of her mouth as she tried to scramble away, she was so sorry for what she was, so sorry to make him angry, to have turned him into this monster that was shaking with rage.

He’d grabbed her hair forcefully and pulled her back towards him.  She felt the pain but was numb to it because of the agony that now dwelled in her heart.  That’s when he’d hit her, hard on the side of her face, her head crashed into the headboard and blood began gushing out of her mouth and nose.  “Take it back!  You’re not a half breed wench!  You think I’m a fool?”

Li-eira had been stunned into submission from the sight of her own blood.  It was the first time she’d ever shed a drop, so sheltered had she been as a child.  Not a single ounce of power came to the mage born as she endured his physical and verbal tirade.  Even his words lost meaning, she couldn’t even hear them from the sound of her heart beating in her ears.  She remembered feeling very scared, very stupid and very alone in that moment.

Her mind was swimming with fear, guessing at what his intentions were when he’d flipped her on the bed.  His words had been so harsh and uncaring.  “Don’t you dare bleed on me.  I don’t want any of your Choshu blood on me.  …and I don’t want you looking at me with those damned eyes.”

That was the day when Li-eira came to the conclusion that blood had the power to summon the very Gods.  An impossible thing happened as she felt the her face pushing into her pillow, the sticky substance saturating her sheet and slicking her face further as it smeared over her cheek.  The day turned almost as black as night, as ominous clouds blocked the sun that had been shining through her open window.  Lightning spit from the sky, blinding in it’s proximity, and the boom that followed shook her entire room.

Gabriel had left immediately after the lightning struck.  Li-eira couldn’t be sure whether the sudden storm had startled his insanity away, or whether he was scared into thinking that she had somehow caused the sky to open.  She only knew that this time she was lucky.  Or as lucky as unlucky could be.

The distant rumble of thunder brought Li-eira back out of her reverie.  She stood back up, her thumb still tucked into her mouth, because it somehow made the sting less.  With a bit more care she sought out the rose again, finally plucking it from it’s thorny vine.  She decided then and there to lay that memory forever to rest, it was one shadow that she was eager to purge from the garden of her soul.

She walked several paces over to a small pool and sat down again, breathing in the sweet fragrance of the rose.  This would be the memory that she would allow to replace Gabe’s one misdeed.  This new memory would remind her of the tower, of bringing her new friends here to be embraced by her colleagues.  It would remind her of the castle grounds, Tintaas, her beautiful Willow and the night she couldn’t quite remember that she spent with Janus.

After taking one last fragrant breath of the flower, she set it loose in the pond.  “Rest in peace Gabriel.”  It felt good to forgive him.  He’d died over fifteen years ago in the war, but she’d only found out about his death a few months ago, when she’d went to visit Drew in search of Master Johnson.

Drew had been less than anxious to see her, sending his own son, now a young man off to town to keep him safe from his old ghost, Li-eira.  It had been hard for her to see him, his face lined with age while hers looked the same as it had thirty years ago.  It had been an all together sobering experience for her.

She watched the rose as it floated aimlessly across the placid water, and considered how good it was to have that particular chapter in her life closed.  She could tell by the dimming light in the sky that she needed to get back to her room if she was going to have time to clean up before dinner.

It reads like a fantastical curio or a dream story...

R.K.Galvez

Chairman:

I really was drawn into this world - the reverie of Li-eira[a strange but beautiful name]really sweeps the reader in. However, I don't know if you considered pushing the sexualization further[you shouldn't have any worries censorship wise, as you have marked it for mature readers], as there is something within this curio that has the knack of eroticizing everything within this fantasy land[as the title may allude to]; the pastoral imagery supports some form of the erotic.

It serves your piece well, and I find that intriguing, and I was interested by the blood connection, and I think I got the imagery with the blood, using the blood to summon powers of the Gods and that motif of the rose. Correct I'm if I am wrong, though! I am no way by the book [no pun intended], so don't expect me to lecture you on literary orthodoxy! Feel free to let rip, if you want!

But I think this is very well thought-out and am intrigued to find if you'll continue it. My only query being: who is Janus? All the best Chairman and I'm pleased to have read this work.

Peace to you,

R.K.Galvez

Thanks RK!

Thanks for reading it. :)

This is a character from a text based role playing game that I'm in. Most of my fiction is based on short stories of my various characters.

This particular story was a way for me to flesh out her past, in the romance department. She's a half elf, in a world where elves are hated. I almost made it an ugly violent piece, but there was something about this character that I wanted to keep virginal, so I decided against doing anything too terrible to her.

Janus plays the part of the druid in this epic fantasy game, and is her current love interest.

The blood was my vehicle, I guess, the way to get her from the present story into a traumatic flash back of a past that she'd buried for a hundred years. It also represented her elven blood (Choshu in this game world).

Thanks for reading. :) I plan on posting more stories from my favorite characters.

www.nextgenrpg.com

Interesting...

Excellent job of setting the mood, and an interesting way of telling a story in two time frames.

One minor thought: your use of a god's name, Janus, for Li-eira's most recent lover gives the impression, apparently wrongly from your response to the other note, that Li-eira, having seen what happens in the relatively long term from falling in love with a human, has gone to the other extreme and chosen an immortal this next time around. (From the story, we don't know for certain whether she's long-lived or just using her mage powers not to show her true age.) Her inability to remember details of that night gives the implication that it was a one-night stand and that Janus was more powerful than Li-eira and was manipulating her, in effect, for an easy lay.

I'm not sure how much this matters; a more detailed background isn't especially important to our feel for the characters, and further exposition could interfere with the emotional effect. But since it did send me into a train of thought that may have gone in the wrong direction, I felt I should mention it.

Anyway, thanks for posting the story.

Eric

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