Story Teaser:The Pact
(Note, the name ‘Whocate’ is pronounced ‘who-ka-tay’)
Many years before the present…
A young Mountaran made her way through the forests in the mountains, following the stream back up to its source above, in the district of Westwind. The sun was setting, nearly at the horizon and on a direct path to dive behind a moon that should have not been there.
She paused in her flight, taking her bearings from the land she knew well, instead of the mixed-up, celestial bodies above her. It felt so strange, no longer relying on them when her mother had taught her from infancy how to use them to navigate anywhere by. The urge to look to where the Moon should have been made her glance to the empty space, knowing even if it were in its normal position, it would have been completely dark and there would be nothing to see.
The woman forced herself to move on, impelled by the mild pressure of the conjunction in her mind – the ghosts of mystic symbols and stars their backdrop whenever she looked up, or her gaze went unfocused in scrye-sight. She had not had such uncontrollable Sight since Erik had cured her Two Worlds Sickness in the only way known to cure it. It had not been the easiest cure, certainly not the safest, but the details were lost to the mind-blowing ecstasy of its Bonding her to House Whoticore and so she risked everything now for that – to save them.
Sarilayna came to an area where large, flat rocks peppered the riverbed, making it possible to cross the stream. Looking up, she asked the dragonflies accompanying her for directions. Three came to her, buzzed back and forth, close to her face, conferring with her. “Good,” she told them. “It has been a long journey. I need to get there before the Celestial Dance begins.”
One of the dragonflies, a purple one, buzzed urgently, darting, drawing her attention. The woman’s eyes went wide. She looked back along the overgrown trail.
She was being followed.
“No, not yet. Not already! I have to complete my task,” she told it, watching its urgent dance back and forth level with her eyes. “Only then can I stop this insanity!” She let her airborne friends guide her the safe way across the rocks, not looking back.
Those following Sarilayna stopped at the edge of the stream. It had risen suddenly, covering the rocks, as though mocking them, daring them to try to cross.
A tattooed male Mountaran began to ask. “How – ”
“She’s powerful,” another cloaked figure replied. “We told you she has both Light and Dark forces guiding her to a forbidden place, Narik.” He kicked a small stone into the water. “and we must stop her before she reaches…” He looked up, trailing off.
“So you said, Erik, but you haven’t told us where she is going.” This from the third male in the party. He was larger, much older, but so handsome that age had only succeeded in refining his features into a rugged beauty claimed by very few in their lives.
Erik ignored the question, still staring at the moon. “What is Lunarae doing over there, father?”
The party looked up, the males staring, stunned at the moon and sun so close they nearly touched from their perspective. Erik’s father, Loki, frowned. “This is bad – and highly unnatural.”
“But it makes Sari’s choice of when in the cycle to attempt this most clear now, don’t you think? Technically the moon dies away tonight, but it has obviously had a change of mind.” He looked at them. “And since today was inexplicably an hour shorter than it should be at this time of year, that makes tonight the Autumnal Equinox. Equal day and equal night.”
Narik shook his head, addressing the elder male. “Master, it is still weeks away – ”
“Yes. It should be. This is an unnatural one,” Erik replied instead. “The Moon Goddess creates another one, with the help her daughter, the Sun, so they may confer on the fate of the bloodlines.” He looked back at his companions, to the woman who had not yet spoken. She nodded in agreement.
Loki, stepped forward to the edge of the stream. “Neither can meet the other in their natural environs, except during an eclipse. Of course! And you knew this.” He speared her with an accusing stare.
“Even I do not have the power to do this,” the woman spoke up. “Sari must have waited for the conjunction. Saw it was coming, even though it was unnatural.”
Erik nodded. “Yes. Exactly.”
“You were foolish to trust Moonbyte with our Grimoires, Erik,” the elder male scolded him softly.
“It was a risk, father,” he admitted. “Though now I believe her to be powerful enough she never needed them or their knowledge. She is the strongest Seeress to come to us in a very long time and we cannot grow our own power without her. No offense intended, Nateri,” he added to the female.
Loki shook his head, circling Erik. “No, convenient truths. You don’t care for her mission. It is not the real reason for this chase,” he growled, yanking his son’s cowl away for the others to see. They gasped and the woman put a hand to her mouth. “I thought so,” he nodded. “Your eyes have changed. You feel the Burning in your loins.”
“The Burning?” the male acolyte Narik repeated. He knew there was a risk at staring at the young man’s eyes, but he couldn’t help it. “the need that kills without completion?”
“A joining to grow your power,” the woman nodded. “Oh Gods, or to a Seeress for – ” She backed up, turned to run, but Erik reached out, snatched her with a painful grip on her upper arm before she could take two steps. She yelped in fear.
” – the purposes of finding the more – delicate flowers we Whoticores hunt,” the young man relented impatiently, pulling the woman to his side HARD. “So now you know. What are you going to do about it, Nateri?”
His voice soft and steady, not mocking, pulled at her, her arm growing rapidly numb where he held her. Steeling herself, she thought she could get away just this once with staring him down, even knowing what those eyes could do. She had built up quite a resistance to his evil father, after all…
When she came to again, he had forgotten her, let her go, was circling all of them. “You THINK you know what this means, what this feels like!?!” Erik was saying, gesturing to his glittering, all black eyes. “but NONE of you understand, except father!” He pointed across the river. “If we don’t stop that witch, Whocate may very well kill all of us for what her son Acheron started and we continue to this very day. When Sarlayna Moonbyte reveals the bloodline’s sins to Her, the Goddess will abandon us to our wretched fates!”
“Why would Whocate care now?” their Acolyte shrugged. “This has been going on for 80 generations and where has she been?”
Erik speared him with a deadly gaze. “Take care, Narik. Time does not move for her as it does for us.”
“It does not move at all,” Nateri agreed, rubbing her arm to get feeling back into it. Useless. She would have to wait until the neuroparalytic wore off. “The Milky Way takes 25,000 years to complete a rotation. That is as nothing and as dust to her.”
“You obviously need further studies, Narik,” the elder male counseled. “Without the Deeper Mysteries, none of this will make the sense it should. But we are wasting time. Every moment lost to arguments lets Sarlayna advance closer to the Dragonfly Temple.” Narik shot him a look of surprise.
Nateri stepped forward. “Yes, it does exist, young one. And you will be witness to that soon enough.”
“The Temple of Whocate. I thought so.” The look that crossed Erik’s black, fathomless eyes left everyone, even his father, cold. “Fine. It is fitting she be further bonded to me there. If it was good enough for the blessed Acheron, it is good enough for our union…”
Sarilayna Moonbyte picked up her step, feeling a psychic shiver come over her. Those that followed would not relent and would not be gentle when they caught up to her unless she completed her mission. And catch up they would. She had seen that much in her visions in Lord Loki Whoticore’s mansion.
Suddenly she came to a clearing that was not a clearing. True, trees surrounded the perimeter with only a couple in the meadow, but she knew the signs of hidden places. The grass was flat, as if it were under the weight of something crushing it. The reflection of the dying sun lit some of the leaves with silver, but others grew completely dark as the evening fog layer began to rise from the ground. She kneeled at a well, drawing her cape down off her shoulders as well as her gown and looked up.
The last of the crescent of the sun died away. For an instant there was complete blackness, then the moon was haloed with a beginning flare of light from the fiery orb behind it. It reminded her of her visions of the Goddess Whocate’s eyes…completely black, lit with an inner blue fire, beautiful to her followers, but death to all other flesh if beheld. Unlike Whocate’s glow, this one was golden, but she knew that would not be for long…
Her hands went out in front of her in supplication and she spoke in a language thought long dead, no longer used.
*Goddess of the Moon, Goddess of Sleep.
Queen over Death and it’s Mysteries so Deep.
I come to confer, with stories to tell,
To you and the Sun, bid you end such a hell
as has cursed the bloodlines for neigh nearly 3 by 3
Reveal to me your Temple, open my eyes that I may see!*
With the last line of the incantation, she closed her eyes tight, drew her hands in front of her face and wrenched them back to her sides with the last words uttered. A blast of power shook her to the core and when she opened her eyes, their newly born blackness revealed what she had only seen in her mind’s eye up to now. Sparing only the briefest moment to marvel at the sight of the black marbled temple before her, she gestured for her dragonfly companions to accompany her…
All in the party, Erik, his father Loki, the acolyte Narik and the woman Nateri were hit with the psychic backlash of the event above. They had watched with trepidation as the eclipse had begun, but when it hit its epoch, the halo surrounding the conjoined celestial bodies had faded, its golden hue now the soft, blue fire of Whocate’s lifeforce.
“It’s begun,” Nateri announced. “The opening of the Dragonfly Temple and its appearance again on the physical plane!”
Father reeled from the energies, then got his equilibrium back. “We must hurry. Erik.”
“Erik…oh beloved Goddess, NO!” the man went to his son, who was standing facing the eclipse, arms outstretched to it as if in supplication. When he felt his father’s hand on his shoulder, he turned back to his companions.
He had been hit hardest by the unnatural conjunction and when he faced them, all saw his eyes were backlit with an unnatural red tint and flare.
Nateri stared in horror. “Erik, no!”
*I see now…* he whispered in the Goddesses’s long-forgotten language. *I see the Two Worlds…I see…everything!* He gasped, staggering with the weight of knowledge not meant for flesh and blood.
His father wasted no time restraining him. “It’s the eclipse!” he shouted to his stunned companions. “It will erode his soul. HOLD HIM!!”
*I need her. I need Sari! LET ME GO!* Erik wailed, flailing against his father’s strength. Narik struggled to exchange places with Loki so the man could knock his crazed son out with a well-placed blow, but in the momentary exchange of no one person holding him with all their strength, Erik threw them all off and ran towards the temple in an insane, hormone and eclipse-driven madness that paled all his family’s mental illness into insignificance.
When the doors opened, the Seeress could see the Temple was lit from within. Sarlayna stepped in quickly, bidding the dragonfly in the lock to close the temple doors tight again. It was only a stall tactic until they figured out how to open it, but would bring her time enough to speak to the Goddesses.
(background music to the story. Hit the play button, turn it down low. It’s amazing =)
The run through the temple confines was quick, as all ways converged on the center. As soon as the Grand Dias and Altar were within sight, she felt a burning desire hit her womb full force. She crumpled, gasping, knowing it meant Erik had not only been hit with the cursed Burning, but the eclipse had intensified it a hundred fold, pulling both of them, one towards the other.
Gritting her teeth, she staggered to the dais, falling upon it. As soon as the glow of the eclipse bathing the Altar from above touched her, she froze, her awareness of her physical body and surroundings dying, replaced by her mind opening up to the essences occupying the Temple. Both Life and Death…
*Hello?* Sarilayna walked the corridors of the Dragonfly Temple. The light went suddenly gray, all was shrouded in fog.
No answer greeted her. The last thing she remembered was the Goddesses opening her mind up to them and it nearly killing her…
She came to the throne room. Standing in two of three doorways were two ethereal beings. One was darkly radiant, her gowns were darkest night and yet glowed the color of the full moon. Her raven hair straight and black, like her eyes, except for the tinge of blue in their depths. Unnaturally large, black dragonflies outlined in an electric blue glow attended her.
The other being was as radiant as the sun, attended by neon green and blue dragonflies. Sarlayna wondered why her frail flesh form was not burned alive by the being’s brilliance. The other, darker Goddess turned to her. *The fog protects your essence – and you are not in your body, so there is no body to burn,* she said in a hollow, echoed voice.
Sarilayna fell to her knees, bowing her eyes. She heard the more radiant being speak, *We are shocked and saddened by the news your mind brings us, dear Sarlayna. The suffering of my mother Whocate’s house at the hands of House Whoticore is indeed great and must be stopped, as well as their own deep pain.*
*Your mother?* Sarilayna said, confused, looking back and forth at them both. *But, you are the Sun! You keep the check and balance of life, of the entire solar system!* Her eyes widened suddenly with the answer. *But you are also – *
*Lethe, yes.* the Sun Goddess replied whistfully. *I who when we were flesh was blinded by the guile of my mad brother Hypnos/Acheron.* The two names seem to fall from Lethe’s lips at the same instant. *Tricked into conceiving him the bloodline of House Whoticore.*
Sarilayna shook her head. *I am lost, Goddess – Goddesses. How can the Sun be borne of the Dark? How can Life be borne from Death? It is the Sun that casts the shadows in the world…*
*…and the sun – all suns of the cosmos were/are/will be born out of Darkness, Sarlayna. Giving/gave birth in its loneliness, no longer wishing for the solitude.* This from Whocate. *It was/is so at the beginning/end of times.*
Sarilayna shook her head. ‘Were…are…will…’ ‘giving…gave…’ terms eternal beings had no separate words for, existing outside of the time that gave such words meaning. There was no clear translation for them in Sari’s poor flesh language, but her training as a Seeress kicked in, giving her sudden understanding, but only just barely. She groped, knowing she was running out of time. *I am not adequate for this task, my Goddess. It is urgent, the message I bring. Please…*
She felt a strange coolness at the inside of her elbow, a weakness that turned her legs useless, mercifully gave her enough time to control her fall, but fall she did. A strange peace overcame her. The muscles felt as when Erik’s body’s neuroparalytic would when it seeped into her skin, rendering her body useless to her. She rode out the ecstasy it also induced – an instant, then gone, leaving her weak and tired.
Looking up, she noticed one of the attendant dragonflies was missing from Whocate’s side. With an effort, Sari moved her eyes downward in time to see it withdraw a delicate stinger from her arm and fly back to its Goddess.
Her eyes flared into blackness with the inlit fire of Whocate’s all knowledge, as if the creature had poured the knowledge into her through her veins, riding its venom. *Yes, I understand…I see the Two Worlds…I see…everything!*
*This dire situation shall be remedied, for my children’s work is not yet complete,* Whocate declared as Sarilayna found her feet again and stood. *Lethe and I must end this devastating pain and madness before the fertility of the bloodlines die.*
*It is already dying, Beloved Ones,* the Seeress told them. *Erik’s mother tried eight times to have children and he was the only one to live.*
Lethe looked to her mother. *Hence the need for our haste.* Her gaze turned back to the mortal. *But not in your generation, Sarlayna. The one after will suffice. And though they will be infertile, I will infuse them with my life – *
* – and my soul,* Whocate added in a soft whisper. *Flesh as before/been/will be.*
Lethe looked to her. *I will accompany you, Mother, but only if you break the cycle starting with me. I will not be raped again by a son of the Whoticore bloodline. Promise me this, please?*
Whocate nodded. *No female should suffer such agony and breaking of spirit twice in her lifetime, let alone once! It is/will be done, Lethe. No Whoticore will touch you again against your will. This I give you.*
The Sun Goddess nodded, turning back to the mortal Sarilayna. *It is too late to offer you such protection, Sarlayna. Your Bonding to Erik has fused your very DNA to their destinies. You will be made to serve the Whoticore bloodline – in body and in mind.* She looked inward. *But you will discover Erik will be healed in mind and soul, be much gentler than in the future – *
*Past, daughter,* the Death Goddess cocked her head. *I think. Perhaps.*
*I do truly love him, my Queen,* Sarilayna told them. *They are not evil, they are suffering.*
Whocate smiled. *Your compassion does you glory, my child. And because of that, and the proximity to the Temple, his suffering will end before he comes to me. I cannot undo what the Bonding has done, but know that it won’t be long for you, now that you have our knowledge.*
Sarilayna nodded. *As you see it, Goddess, it is. If it must be so, I will endure.*
The eclipse reached its peak as soon as the hunting party had reached the clearing. The last outlines of the Dragonfly Temple faded, Sarilayna levitated several feet off the ground, lit in an outline of the soft, blue fire of Whocate’s essence. As the sun and moon parted company above them, she descended in a shaft of moonlight, coming to rest gently on the earth. As soon as the mad boy reached her, the eclipse began to wane in earnest and Erik was hit with a wall of returning clarity. His companions tackled him, but his lack of resistance and the flare of bloodlust gone from his eyes told them it was all right to let him go.
The father inspected Sarilayna, nodding to Nateri that she was well, only weak, but no worse than that for such a dangerous encounter with the powerful beings. Opening her eyes, which were once again green, Sari asked for water. Nateri brought it to her. “Thank you, mother,” she replied as she was helped up to drink.
Erik, dazed and disoriented from the madness, shook his head. “What happened to me? How did I get here?”
“The eclipse stole your wits, Erik,” Nateri Moonbyte explained. “But it’s over. You survived, thank Lethe’s forgetfulness. Sarlayna has delivered her message to the Goddesses.”
He looked quickly to her. “No! You’ve doomed us!”
The younger Seeress sat up with his father’s help. “No, Erik. No. It is not for our generation to fix this mess, remove this curse. Whocate and Lethe are in agreement it will be in the generation 3 by 3 after its beginnings. Our children’s!” She smiled wearily, touching his cheek. “All will be well, my love. Your bloodline will get back its power – and more. Whocate desires to heal you, not punish.”
His father looked doubtful. “You are so certain of that, MoonWitch?”
Her eyes flared over into blackness. He stepped back reflexively, afraid. “I speak for them, as them, am of them, Lokiarei,” she warned, using his sacred, unspoken name. “Take care in you arrogance!”
Nodding, he looked down, relenting. When he looked up at her again, her eyes were back to their normal green hue and any trace of the Goddesses’s presence was gone.
Relieved they hadn’t fallen out of favor, Erik grasped her by the shoulders and kissed her, finding no resistance in her now as she had shown back in his father’s home. Erik’s madness then when his eyes had flared to blackness had been but a weak shadow of the eclipse-induced frenzy, but both conditions now appeared to be over.
“We will meet you back in town, Erik,” the elder Whoticore nodded. “I will arrange for contact lenses to conceal your new – condition,” he said delicately. “Narik, Nateri.”
Loki raised an eyebrow. “’No’?”
“I won’t leave her with HIM,” Nateri returned, indicating Erik. “I know what will happen. His eyes still burn with need, with utter darkness!“
Sarilayna looked at him. She had never found black eyes attractive – especially not in his father, but then she knew what evil his father was capable of. Somehow, on the younger Whoticore, they were much more alluring…
She looked back at her mother. “It’s all right, mom. I have something of a need too, now.”
The trio moved to leave, Nateri casting a long, backwards glance at her daughter, wondering what she had experienced in the Temple, yearning to ask her. Maybe when she was on her deathbed, ready to shed her body to dance with Whocate, Sari might just tell her.
Once the party was out of sight, Sari expected Erik would move to possess her, as the Goddesses had warned. Instead, he walked up to her side, watching the space where they had departed. Confused, she glanced at his eyes. They were still black, she could feel the tension as he held back from what the Burning was urging him to do to her. That he could exert that much self control and so far win, was a miracle. None of his bloodline had ever fought it to this extent, or even considered fighting it.
“I will have you, you know,” he said with the casual arrogance of a Whoticore.
“You already do, you arrogant bastard,” she smirked, finding such a declaration from a family that never bothered to announce their declarations first, absurd. “Only because Whocate wants our son and hers to end Acheron’s curse upon your family,” she said just as matter-of-factly.
He turned her to him, surprised. “Son?” he repeated. “but you are not yet – “
“ – yet,” she shrugged. “That is your intent, what is making your hands shake with need, isn’t it, Erik?”
“They told you – ” he trailed off. “The Goddesses told you…”
“A son?” He turned away, trying to hide a pride he was not used to feeling in family. Especially HIS family.
“Sons,” she declared, coming to him, running a hand over his arm. “One will be a jerk – like your father, probably…”
He turned, offended, but realized he had to agree.
“But the other one will embody the beginning of the bloodline – and your family’s new beginnings,” she smiled.
Sarilayna bore Erik Whoticore two beautiful sons – Wilfred and Glen Whoticore. Their half-sister, Alaina Moonbyte, came to be the most powerful Seeress of her generation, following in her mother Sarilayna’s footsteps.
Erik was blessed because of his proximity to the Goddess Counsel as well. Because of the grip the Eclipse’s madness had on his mind, it had drained the instability from him, leaving him once again as sane and gentle as before the Burning. He would be the only male in 80 generations since Brandon Whoticore conceived the bloodline with Whocate would would not die insane.