AN: I know, starting another fic before I finished any of the old ones...-_-;; yeah, that's me to a tee. N'wayz, this just caught me and wouldn't let me go until I had written it...it just kinda flowed outta my fingers onto my computer and that was that...*sigh* my muses take the worst times to have me get sudden inspirations...
Beads of sweat ran down her cheeks, stinging the open scratches that marred her pale skin in a network of spider webs. Her cloak was tattered and torn from the cruel grasp of the tree branches that whipped and snapped into her face and body.
She was scared.
Every wild, innocuous sound froze her heart with dread. The owl's innocent call was like a raucous laugh of derision, the breaking twigs on the forest floor cracked like boulders that fell in a tumbling avalanche. Even the moon, soft and gentle, was her enemy. It lit the clearing around her in dripping, syrups of light, whitewashing the trees that should have hidden them and casting off the cloak of full night with its iridescent glow.
Not too far away, she heard the trumpeting yells of her father's men, cringing against the lantern light that spilled over her in harsh, violent waves. Briefly, she closed her eyes in agony, trembling with equal amounts of pain and terror as bile seared her throat.
~*No, Father! I do not condone this alliance with Mordrid; there are rumors that he dabbles in human sacrifices and rapes the earth to draw blood-magic from the soil. He killed thousands of his own people in meaningless wars, meaningless battles to earn him power and land! And you would freely give our lands to him by offering my hand to him in sanctified marriage...I'll have none of it!
You will do as I say, daughter! If you cross me R'lina, this I swear, that you will be no daughter of mine! I will set my men on you as I would a run-away slave! I will give you to them to do as they please with you and then, I will gladly sever your head from your neck and upon a silver dish, present this trophy to Lord Mordrid! You will bind your life to him the next morn, or you will bind your life to Death! It is your choice; I wash my hands of you!*~
And this ultimatum had forced her to her circumstances now, her despair and fear of what was to be should she consent.
She had sworn fiercely that same day that she would never wed Mordrid, never let him defile her body or soul with his cruelty. She refused ever to become those apathetic, lank haired, blank-eyed creature to that overlord, though they were dressed in the finest silk and the most expensive jewelry draped across their necks and wrists like the golden chains.
Fenra, her half-sister, had once been a joyous child, full of life and vigor, merry and sweet as the falling nectar from an orchid's trembling petal. She had been fickle as the day, as gentle as the night, and more mischievous than all the other children put together. She had been well loved for all her foolery and cheerful wit and on the day of her marriage, had declared that she would never change for any husband, that she would never be broken.
R'lina's face twisted in anguish at the memory. She had not seen her older sister for years after that fateful declaration, and had cried night and day because of her absence. The next time, she had been twelve years old and Mordrid and his wives had come to celebrate the full Harvest-Moon at the mansion. Fenra had been there and unnoticing of the vacant stupor of her half-sister's gaze, R'lina had laughed in delight and embraced Fenra, bubbling over with joy at her sister's return. But Fenra, warm and loving Fenra, Fenra of the one thousand and one jokes and tricks, did not respond, had only looked at her with eyes that were not hers, dull and stupid with numb apathy...completely soulless.
That will never happen to me! I will not let it! Relena ran on, tripping over the hem of her gown as she pushed past the gloating knots on the tree, past the groping fingers of light that illuminated her tortured features. She looked desperately around, blindly seeking some reassurance from the cold, lifeless forest, but there was nothing but the voices behind her and the taunting jeer of the raven. Please...you said you would be here.
Suddenly, she stumbled, tripping over a raised tree root and immediately felt warm arms encircling her shoulders, warmth spilling into her frozen body like the sudden breath of summer.
She sobbed once, clutching the scratchy fabric of his woolen shirt tighter as she pressed her face into his chest, allowing herself the luxury of a second's joy, strange aside the overwhelming pain that still drew a raw ache across her throat.
"Hiiro..." The name was a chant across her lips as she sought, and received, the steady benefaction of his love gathering around her like a cloak of security. He was so strong, so alive and fierce...
And he loved her, would face the King's wrath for her despite the fact that he was but a sorcerer's son and she, a King's daughter. He gripped her in a fast embrace, gentling the terror from her stiff, aching muscles before releasing her, almost reluctantly.
Keeping a hand to clasp loosely around her shoulders, he propelled her firmly forward, soothing passion replaced with a sense of firm purpose. "We must leave."
"Where?" That one word was uttered with quiet despair as she raised her pleading eyes to his. "He will find me. He will find you. We shall both die tonight..."
His hand tightened on her arms and he shook her hard until she clung to him to keep on her feet. His eyes, piercing cerulean like the first color of nightfall, sparked with stormy determination and his face was set into a hard mask, angry and determined as he looked down at her with a hawk's eyes. "Stop, R'lina. I swore to protect you once...I keep my promises."
His gaze was steady, assured and her frightened gaze softened, then warmed at the memory that was so cherished by both of them. A declaration long ago when they were both children of fourteen, walking across the flowing sand of the beaches that had shifted and sparkled like thousands upon millions of hopes and promises. They had thought that they were free then, free to love and be loved in return.
Small hopes, unfulfilled as the hopes of the grains of sand yearning to become the sea.
The trumpets called again and the dogs whined and bellowed, yelping their triumph as they barreled through leave-strewn forest in a steady racket that grew closer and closer. Grabbing her arm, Hiiro pulled her along, forcing them both to run from the oncoming tide of hounds and horses and R'lina felt a small tremble flow up her spine in a vague foreboding. She pushed it aside, pulling strength from Hiiro's sure steps and steady confidence and ran beside him, her hand furtively running down his arm to seek his in a deathgrip. He was here...he would protect her as she would protect him. It would be enough.
"Where...do we...go?" She whispered softly. Her voice came in ragged pants and her words jolted and hitched with every step she took.
"Lavan'ya. It is close. Once there, I can build a portal on the headstone and we will both leave this foul place."
"Lavan'ya?" Relena repeated, her sense of foreboding growing stronger. Lavan'ya, a holy temple where Hiiro could use his magic...but why did it have to be the temple of Lavan, God of the Dead? Why could it not be Kivar, the Goddess of Protection and Spells and her own personal deity? But these thoughts were forgotten as they pushed onwards, through the hindering foliage until they finally stumbled into the clearing, heading towards the small shrine.
Immediately, Hiiro stood at the gated entrance of planked ebony wood and carved, gold-leafed inscriptions. He held his hand up, raised in a gesture of command and a word of power spilled from his lips, hovering in the air like an intangible force. The black wood of the door seemed to twist, then blanched a milky white and shades of sickly yellowish-gray until it looked as if the beginnings of a tornado was being summoned from the its depths. Another word caused the clouds to disappear into a yawning hole and R'lina stifled a gasp as she saw a field of shimmering stars unfold before them, paving the way to wherever they wished to go.
Slowly, almost wearily, he lowered his arm, his brow still furrowed in lines of concentration. His eyes were hard, cold with exhaustion because the gating spell was difficult, even for him. He felt small fingers slip between his own and squeezed them gently in return, the naturally implacable planes of his face softening into a tender smile. They were there, at heaven's gate, one step away from freedom...
Black figures hurled from the surrounding trees, hounds baying shrilly, bloodlust shining in their cruel, eyes and foaming lustily at their mouths. Hiiro's eyes widened fractionally and yanked R'lina in front of him, hurtling towards the portal as the mounted men started for them, arrows knocked and bows raised.
The first bolt caught him across the shoulder and pain lanced from his chest, causing him to stumble but not fall. The second caught him two steps away from the portal...but he did not fall.
It was the third that imbedded itself into his chest, then the fourth and the fifth. R'lina screamed, clutching his hand more tightly as he lurched heavily to his knees, bracing his arm against the cold stone, his life's blood spattering in wild arcs and wild, chaotic designs at the threshold of the portal. So close...
"No!" R'lina clutched his arm, urging him in her breathless, pained voice to go on, but his body failed him, unequal to the determination of his will. She closed her eyes, sobbing and pressed his hand to her trembling lips, wailing softly, "Hiiro!!"
Slowly, he looked up, trying, and yet unable to smile for her one last time. Lifting a bloodied hand, he touched her cheek, grazing his thumb along her tear-streaked cheekbone and alabaster skin, memorizing every feature in her expressive face.
"De n'camela, R'lina. Oya, misun d'misun-a." She shook her head violently, clasping his hand in both of hers, weeping openly as she denied his words with all her heart.
"We were supposed to go together! We were supposed to be happy..."
Gently, he dropped his hand, pressing it to her breast, just above the place where her heart beat in frantic tandem to the hooves of the horses as they pounded against the ground. "Mserai onu...aishiteru R'lina." With a quick flick of his wrist, he gave her a forceful shove causing her to fall, caught in the inexorably grasp of the portal's energy field. She screamed, struggling to stay with him, reaching her arm out toward him even as his face disappeared from her sight, lost in the swirling nothingness of space.
Relena screamed, shooting up from her bed with that name on her lips, heart beating as if she had just run a marathon and trembling, she pressed a hand to her chest, eyes closed as if in pain. Her door was flung open and suddenly, the lights were flung on, flooding the room in blinding brilliance and she shied away, hiding her face from the coldhearted glare. Her roommate stumbled in, her eyes wide with fear and still muzzy with sleep as she took one look at Relena before catching her in a soothing embrace, murmuring nonsensical words of reassurance in German as she had all those other times before when Relena had woken with nightmares.
Presently, when she stopped shaking, Hilde leaned back, her heart-shaped face troubled and worried as she studied Relena's pale, waxen face, "God Rel..."
"It was only a dream..." Relena's whole body heaved and she drew her legs up in a semi-fetal position, rocking herself to and fro, her face a contortion of misery. "I keep on having the same dream, it's always the same dream. I know it's not real, but it seems so real! The running, the death...I don't...Oh God-"
"Shhh..." Hilde comforted again and Relena clung to her, grateful that the German girl had still consented to be roommates with her despite the common knowledge that she was sometimes caught in nightly fits of terror. "Rel...it's okay...what was it about?"
"I'm not sure..." Relena whispered, "I'm so sorry. You must think I'm an awful bother..."
"It's okay." Pushing back the wild tendrils of honey-gold hair from Relena's face, Hilde smiled, her presence taking away some, not all, of the fear that had plagued Relena more and more these fitful nights. "After all, without you, I'd be failing Calculus right now."
Relena laughed weakly, leaning against Hilde's shoulder until the shivering ceased. Presently, Hilde began, almost hesitatingly, "Relena..."
"Rel...who's Hiiro?" When Relena said nothing, Hilde pushed on determinedly, looking straight into Relena's tortured eyes. "When you screamed, you called for him. So I wondered..."
Relena's azure eyes took on a haunted quality and she stared past Hilde, looking at nothing, yet at the same time, everything. "I...don't know...I think..."
Oya misun d'misun-a...[Go, live for my life...]
"Maybe...I'm pretty sure..."
Mserai onu...aishiteru...[Remember only that I love you...]
"That he loved me..."
I don't really like the title of this, so if anyone can suggest anything, I'd be totally in your debt. Arigato!
*Lavan'ya. Literally, the House of Lavan. But the nomenclature 'ya' usually denotes a place of worship. For example, for Kivar, Her temple would be called Kivar-ya. If you want to denote literally someone's house, let's say Hiiro, it would be ya'mala d'Hiiro-ka. Ya'mala being house, the 'a' specifying ownership.
* De n'camela, R'lina. Oya misun d'misun-a...Mserai onu, aishiteru. Do not cry, R'lina. Go, live for my life. Remember only (the last word, Japanese) I love you.