Ch. 1 – The Lost Daughter and Prodigal Son

You should have died,” Uther growled at his son. “How dare you claim my blood when you so freely take it?” His red eyes flashed, claws curled and flexed.

“Is this grief I hear from you?” Glendon’s voice was little more than a hiss. “Is this pain in your eyes? Is this mourning?” He stalked forwards, circling Uther like he was prey. “No.” He laughed softly. “You may think you are gutted, you may think you loved Grygor, but all you’re feeling – all you can feel – is anger. Hate me if you will, but I deserved life more than my brother ever did. He believed he had a duty to you. He believed you were worth admiration. And me? I listened to you, Father. You told me – the only emotion worth cultivating is anger. You made me learn it, with blood and broken bones. Are you proud of me yet? Proud of what I’ve done?”

“You dare tell me what I desired? You dare cast your treachery in my face? I should have cast you out when your mother first showed proof of you.” The flame in his eyes doused for a moment. A cold, analytical gleam took its place. “Beg for my forgiveness, else I must cut you off forever, disavow your soul, shed your blood like you did my own. Beg, Glendon, beg for your life.”

With a growl of frustration, Glendon pulled away. “You never loved me, but you expect my worship. I would rather die than bow my knee to you.”

“Then you will.” Before Glendon could react, his father had stepped forward and grasped his arm. Burning heat bit into his skin where his father held him. “I curse you, demon spawn, to wander the streets of man, searching for a human who will knowingly and willingly give their life for yours. May this mean for you an eternity of disgust and hatred; may your loneliness burden your soul past rescue. A demon in the land of man with no power, a blight on innocence with no remedy. May you live forever in such misery.”

Glendon tried to jerk away, fire glowing in his eyes. “How- how dare-“

“No one loves a monster, Glendon. No one will look at you without horror in their eyes. You will never see your home again.” He released his arm, and it felt as if he had unmoored Glendon from the plane of reality.

The air around them began to spin and blur, the only thing steady in Glendon’s line of sight the cruelty in his father’s eyes. The pressure in his head grew and grew, till at last he felt himself fall backwards, blackness pulling him in.

——

Julie was lying flat on her back in the tall grass, staring into the sun-bleached sky. She was done crying, but the knots were still tight in her stomach. She was yet wondering deep, dark thoughts, pain cutting thin lacerations into the flesh of her heart. She wondered about the end of pain, a far-off, wispy hope of escape.

She missed the father she had learned to hate. She missed the mother she had never had a chance to love. She missed having an adult in her life who made choices for her, even when they were the wrong choices. It hurt to be alone, more even than another person could hurt you.

True as that may have been, the pain other people could inflict was still more than Juliette could bear. The desires for solitude, for companionship, for peace, for love mixed and churned inside her till she was sure she’d throw up. The hazy realization that she hadn’t eaten anything that day crossed her mind. She settled for closing her eyes and emitting a piercing scream that hurt even her own ears.

When she opened her eyes, there was– something in front of her. It was a tall, dark shape, blotting out the sun. She squinted, wondering if she was hallucinating. Were those – could they possibly be? – horns atop its head? A shiver of unease stirred in her stomach. “Hell- hello?” The shape took a step backwards. Julie jerked to her feet, trying to shield her eyes with her hand so she could see the shape more distinctly. “Who are you and what do you want?” she snapped. She was having trouble making her eyes focus on- whatever it was.

Silence. Terrifying silence. It was Julie’s turn to move backwards. “I don’t- you’re not- people are looking for- I need- you need-” She searched desperately for a reason why this huge, oddly dark person should hesitate to hurt her, but her brain was sluggish, thoughts working their way lazily to the top of her mind.

Before she could utter another word, let alone scream, the shape rushed towards her, seemingly disseminating, spreading, a shadowy cloud that suddenly enveloped her.

It was Julie’s turn to fall backwards into blackness.

——

The girl had fainted when he approached her, which, Glendon decided, was for the best. She had been terrified, babbling. She had been mesmerizing. Glendon had never seen a human girl who was yet untainted by the filth of the Otherworld. Nychta in particular was scarring – people changed seemingly as soon as they entered its borders.

But this girl had been so honest in her pain, so soft and vulnerable. It had even taken him a moment to realize that she was afraid, he was so unused to a trembling reaction to fear rather than a biting, violent one.

He knelt down next to her crumpled form in the grass. He was afraid to touch her, afraid to ruin her by his mere contact. If he touched her, surely she would stop looking so peaceful and beautiful. Surely corruption oozed from his fingertips– if not from his essence, surely from the curse swirling in his bloodstream.

One long, silky piece of hair lay in the grass almost upon him. His hand, almost of its own accord, reached out to stroke it. A cautious glance at her face revealed no apparent damage. He reverently twirled it around his finger, and then as cautiously withdrew.

He ripped his eyes away from her still form to glance around at their surroundings. Piercing sun lit the stalks of fields of plants that surrounded them on three sides. Curious, he jumped up to inspect a plant. Corn. This was corn? He thoughtfully twisted the ear from the stem and returned to the girl’s side.

It seemed as if time held still as he stripped the corn to nothing within his hands and watched the still form of the girl. For a brief second, he didn’t even think about the stretch of days reaching interminably ahead of him. And then she stirred.

Adrenaline pooled in his chest, shooting out to the farthest reaches of his limbs. He couldn’t stand watching terror replace the peace on her face. And yet…this girl.

He leapt to his feet and his himself several feet deep in the field.

He would protect this girl, even if it meant hiding himself from her…for now.

——

Julie had barely stirred awake before she sat bolt upright. The fear came back to her, but she couldn’t remember what it was she had found so frightening. In all likelihood, she had just accidentally cried herself to sleep again.

She reluctantly stood, casting only one last look over her shoulder before beginning the walk back to her house. She could have sworn there had been something, but she found everything nightmarish recently.

Nobody heard as she unlocked the door and slipped inside, tiptoeing up to the room she had blessedly to herself. Less ideal were the four cousins housed two each on either side of her. Not one morning of the two months she had lived there had they not woken her before the sun with screaming fights.

And yet her aunt had taken her in, given her a place to stay. She was grateful. Truly. 

Did that mean she couldn’t be angry? Because she was. Drowning in it. Drowning.

Was it too soon to go back to sleep?

——

Glendon had watched her retreating back till she had disappeared from sight, and then he sat still, frozen in place. She was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. It was as if there were light inside her, radiating from her vulnerable eyes. Perhaps he had once held something softer and more precious than her hair, but all memory of it had fled his mind. Perhaps once there had been something that had awakened in him protective impulses like her soft, frightened eyes had. But no. Nothing could compare to her.

A hot sweep of emotion drew over him.

He must have that girl.

4 thoughts on “Ch. 1 – The Lost Daughter and Prodigal Son

  1. 1) Ooooh. Beauty and Beast with Bible allegory stories except apparently both parents are awful. I liiiiike. 2) I love the line about choices so much. 3) Are going to continue????? 4) Am I to ship or stab Glen repeatedly till he flees or both?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. oHOHOHO yes good this is very good yes yes [excited and dragonish noises as i pile this onto my hoard of Stories That Live Rent-Free In My Head]

    I love two people that are both Hecked Up From The Neck Up meeting accidentally in a cornfield! And I definitely want to know more about the Otherworld and Nychta. And I also definitely hope Glendon doesn’t mean “have that girl” as in “/have/ that girl.” Maybe he should get a cat to teach him about healthy companionship and boundaries.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. it is very INTERESTING that while Glendon thinks the girl is so pure and honest in her pain (“a trembling reaction to fear rather than a biting, violent one”), Julia describes herself as drowning in her own anger. I half-wonder that if Julia is given the ability to fight back, that she won’t take that opportunity.

    ALSO interesting to me is that Glendon views the Otherworld (I’m assuming the name of his home plane of reality and all) as something that can taint this world. Given the respect that Uther feels is due to himself, is that hate of the Otherworld somewhat unique to Glendon, or do all his kind loathe their state?

    Also the image of a demon or demon-adjacent creature inspecting corn fills me with unspeakable joy.

    Liked by 1 person

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