I unwrapped the wire from the crystal, slowly worked out the wooden cork, breaking the seal on the vial. The scent of the blood and essence within hit me like a hammer, and I fell to my knees. I fought to cling to the memory of my Raven, the memory of one who'd loved me once...anything I could do, to stave off the need to drink.
I recapped the vial with shaking hands, and fell asleep curled up in the weeds, huddled next to the old stone grave beside the crypt.
I woke, shaking, trembling, the vial clenched in one pale hand. I thumbed out the stopper in the vial, my frame slowly uncurling. I raised the vial to my lips.
Gods help me...my Raven missing...my Queen gone mad...my Eastern lad traveling far on errands his demon within compels him to achieve, to keep him from my side...
I had no resistance left.
Thunder rolled, the sky grew dark. Pain, such as I have never known, ripped through me. I screamed, my back arched nearly to snapping, actinic fire tearing through my muscles, through my belly, through the center of me.
Wild winds howled outside my sanctuary, and slowly I rose, my tricolor fae eyes spiralling in tones of blood scarlet, bright crimson and silverglow. I staggered through the hole in the wooden gate, making my way down the hard-packed road. Thunder still rolled beyond my wall, the sky still swirling and dark.
Something else was happening. But I could barely concentrate. The road rose and fell before me, the walls on either side of the black lowering over me, making me tremble and flinch.
Someone I barely remembered found me. I do not remember what I said, but she grabbed my shoulders, shaking me.
"Girl, what have you done? What have you summoned?"
I looked around, blinking. THis was my fault? The wine-dark sky, the thunder, the strikes of lightning?
I turned at the sound of a scream, and one of the new enforcers of the city ran by, looking somewhat panicked. he herded all on the streets towards the old inn, the new bright club.
I slunk inside, cowering, curling up as soon as possible on a cushioned seat. The voices grew louder, returned, fighting for dominance with the sound of the crackling hum of equipment I barely understood. I wrapped my arms around my head, keening, and felt a gentle touch.
Between my fingers I peered out, breathing unsteadily. Fellow Sidhe. Unseelie born. Tentacles like rubies made flesh whipped from her back, and my jaw dropped open.
Queen's Consort. How she had changed...
She stroked my hair, and I calmed somewhat, as the word went out. There was a cursed beast in town, attacking the citizens. We must band together and fight.
I walked to my last place of enclosure, a ramshackle dwelling raised on the site. I crouched, reaching underneath the slate still by the side of the hut, and smiled, pulling out my tarnished bronze sword. I strapped the sheath to my side, tearing off my voluminous skirts, and drew the blade. I ran to the source of the conflict.
The beast was massive. Black as night, black as the heart of hate, moonsilver hooves as large as my head, black arching wings from the half-equine form. A glittering ebony horn rose from the skull between eyes of burning red. He spun and whirled, appearing and disappearing, wielding a dull red blade longer than I was.
I tried to attack and was struck down. I rose, leaping into the air, catching a stray bullet from one of the enforcer's guns as I did. I came down, slashing across the back of the beast, and he threw me into the wall.
Dazed, I crumpled, and the fight skirled on, a whirlwind made of flesh and air. I staggered back to the inn, and collapsed in the doorway, blood seeping onto the blue flooring. They cried out for a medic, and soon, a man in white knelt at my side, bandaging the most obvious of the wounds. I drifted in and out of consciousness, as one of the D'Agostinos relayed how this was a curse on the town, ancient of days, from before the time I remembered. How we would need to find a series of riddles, to solve how to slay the beast.
The next few hours were comprised of pain and dull horror, plodding weariness, bouts of unconsciousness. Wherever I went, the beast seemed to find me, slashing at me, until I wore more blood than fabric, and even my healing abilities stopped functioning.
The riddles were found, I remember that. I remember one time facing the beast, in a place of water, holding out my hands, my sleeves drifting under the deep. I remember speaking in a series of bubbles, that I was unweaponed, that I had lost it somewhen back in some then-forgotten melee.
He looked at me, this beast, wry intelligence filling his rugose eyen. "Then you are a fool..." he told me.
Aye, indeed, I agreed with him, as he cut me down yet another time.
Finally it was over. I had fallen as the battle raged beyond me, and took some time to recover. I staggered to the city's park, needing the healing of the sithen. As I stepped through the iron gates the sky cleared, sunlight poured down in golden sheafs, and I met with the D'Agostinos and the woman who'd confronted me, early on.
Their words washed over me, a babble of sound I should have paid attention to, but could not. One thing stuck with me--the lady of the D'Agostinos wished me to find her, somewhen to come. I promised to do so, and touched the rock, staggering through the stone, and fell insensate to the emerald moss.
The surge of essence within me rose and fell. My last thought before unconsciousness claimed me was to wonder, in dull panic, what I'd done....