Tales of Arilland

Tales of Arilland by Alethea Kontis Read Free Book Online

Book: Tales of Arilland by Alethea Kontis Read Free Book Online
Authors: Alethea Kontis
Tags: Fiction, Fantasy, Short Stories, Young Adult, Fairy Tales
But one day.” He turned to leave, but Harvest stopped him.
    “What of our son?” she asked. “Will he experience the same thing when his first child is born?”
    “It will not take him as strongly and it may not come at the same time,” said the elder, “but he will have to make a choice one day, as all young men do.” Harvest mirrored her husband’s scowl and the wolf laughed. “Worry not, little mother. Your son has your strength. He will survive. We all will.”
    Bane and Harvest watched the wolf walk across the garden and into the trees until the shadows swallowed him. Bane lifted his fiddle to play the song once more and Harvest added the words—her own simple words in her clear, simple voice.
    And just as it should, son
    Our happy tale ends with
    Our family three and
    A wolf for a friend
    If life makes you lonely
    And trouble’s your boon
    Just sing this wolf song
    By the light of the moon
    Bane drew out the last note almost longer than the night itself. When Harvest turned to look at him he stared back at her, his golden heart smiling through his blue-green eyes. She cradled their babe in one arm, and the other hand she held out to him. “Sweetheart, come in to dinner.”
    Bane lowered his fiddle, slipped his hand into her soft, delicate palm, and followed behind them.

Blood and Water
    L ove .
----
    L ove is the reason for many a wonderful and horrible thing.
    Love was the reason I lived, there in the Deep, in the warm embrace of the ocean where Mother Earth’s loins spread and gave birth to the world. Her soul was my soul.
    Love is the reason she came to me in the darkness, that brave sea maiden. I remember the taste of her bravery, the euphoric sweetness of her fear. It came to me on wisps of current past the scattered glows of the predators.
    The other predators.
    Her chest contracted and I felt the sound waves cross the water, heard them with an organ so long unused I had thought it dead.
    Help me, she said. I love him.
    The white stalks of the bloodworms curled about her tail. We had a common purpose, the worms and I. We were both barnacles seeking the same fix, clinging desperately to the soul of the world. Their crimson tips brushed her stomach, her breasts. They could feel it in her, feel her soul in the blood that coursed through her veins. I felt it too. I yearned for it. A quiet memory waved in the tide.
    Patience.
    My answer was slow, deliberate. How much do you love him, little anemone?
    More than life itself, she answered.
    She had said the words.
    I had not asked her to bring the memories, the pain. There is no time in the Deep, only darkness. I could but guess at how much had passed since those words had been uttered this far down. Until that moment, I had never been sure if the magic would come to me. Those words were the catalyst, the spark that lit the flame.
    Flame. Another ancient memory.
    The empty vessel that was my body emptied even further. I held my hands out to her breast, and there was light.
    I resisted the urge to shut my inner eyelids to it and reveled in the light’s painful beauty. It shone beneath her flawless skin like a small sun, bringing me colors...perceptions I had never dared hope to experience again. Slivers of illumination escaped through her gills and glittered down the abalone-lustered scales of her fins. Her hair blossomed in a golden cloud around her perfect face. And her eyes...her eyes were the blue of a sky I had not seen for a very, very long time.
    She tilted her head back in surrender and the ball of light floated out of her and into my fingers, thin, white and red-tipped, much as the worms themselves. I cupped her brilliant soul in my palms and felt its power gush through me. So long. So long I had waited for this escape. I had stopped wondering what answer I would give if I should ever hear the words again, ever summon the magic. When the vessel was full, when my dead heart beat again, would I remember? Would I feel remorse? Would I have the

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