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Little Bird

Ligeia’s Story Part 2

“Mother… it…” Ronwe struggles for the correct word. His eyes widen at his realization. “It hurts mother.” he stammers and I hold my breath.

“I feel him mother.” I hear Agramon whisper.  His eyes fill with tears as his stammer disappears. This is the first time I have seen him sad when his speech is no longer hindered.

“He is going to survive this. He can…” Jezebeth barely chokes out. She looks toward the ground, her long black hair blocking her face as her lies tear her apart from the inside. “He will live… he will… he will…” She wraps her arms around herself as she mutters.

“I feel cold mother. Nothing but… but pain and… and cold…” Ronwe shivers and I close my eyes tight to hold in my sorrow. “There… there is nothing…not…thing…” Ronwe’s words trial off and I feel him go limp in my arms. The roar that comes out of Arioch sends shivers down my spine making me painfully aware of how much I am shaking.

“MURDERER!” Arioch screams. The earth trembles beneath our feet, the walls quake, and the human drops his blood stained knife. “I WILL FEAST ON YOUR HEART!” He screams again, baring his double fangs and hissing before rushing toward the human. The rest of his kin are speechless, left in shock or awe. I grieve and chant, quickly becoming suspended in time, because I will shatter if I do not do something to salvage this.

I turn to my left to see Verin crawl toward Ronwe like the creature she is, her eyes slit and intent on her dead kin. She sniffs the air, lifting her head from side to side, which when slowed shows the gruesome desire lighting up her face. Her double fangs lift her gums as she traces her teeth with her tongue. My true demon of impatience has waited as long as she could and I know there will be no stopping her.

Jezebeth falls to the ground wailing, her mouth twisted in a silent scream through my slowed perspective of time. She rocks back and forth, a grim movement that tugs at my heart. I can feel the vibrations of her screaming through the shaking of the ground beneath me. She starts to claw at her skin and I know she fights the same urge Verin is easily giving into.

My angel of fear, Agramon, forms his wings and lifts into the air. He can only fly when there is fear to feed his internal hunger. His siblings have never feared until today and his wings have never shown so brightly. They shadow the land beneath him and carry him up until he disappears into the sun. He does not want to take part in  what is about to happen next. He has always been my gentlest demon and he needs this time to soar.

I run my hand down Ronwe’s graying face. His skin grows colder with every passing second, as does my heart. “Thank you my sweet demon.” I whisper. I take one last look at his tender face before laying him on the ground and standing. I straighten myself, smoothing out the wrinkles in my aged peplos, when I notice how much blood I am covered in. The bright teal is offset by darken burgundy and I force myself to steady.

Looking up from my grab, I watch Arioch bend over then leap into the air forming his wings. In the time I am allowing myself to fix what I could not see coming, I notice Arioch’s wings forming, and he is glorious. The gold and silver that floats through the air moves and dances like a living thing. Slowly the bright pieces of dust and air begin to attach onto his back until the giant wing span of my demon of vengeance is all encompassing.

He lifts into the air and hovers, malice and death radiating from his purple eyes. His hair is short save for a bit in the front that wafts in the air. His muscles flex and strain as he tenses from his anger. Arioch gradually lands on top of the human, forcing him to the ground. He grabs the human’s tunic and lifts him so they are nose to nose. Arioch screams in the human’s face making blood spill from his ears and nose.

I reach for Arioch’s shoulder with one hand, getting his full attention. With my other hand I go to wipe the blood from my nose, a simple side effect of my powers, but before I can touch my skin, my arm is compassionately stopped. I look up to see my demon of vengeance with nothing but tender love and devotion in his eyes and I can’t help but smile.

“No,” Arioch whispers. “Do not squander your blood, little witch.” He wipes the blood from my face with his own hand then licks it off his fingers. “You taste too good.” His words are like velvet and the ache in my chest starts to lessen. For a moment it is only he and I, as it once was, so long ago now. He stares into my eyes in a way that I feel to my core. “Now, mighty Ligeia,” Arioch leans down and kisses my forehead. “Now, un-do this trickery.”

I stop the chanting I was doing with my second voice, the underline words that flowed from my mouth harnessing the energy around me, quieting then stopping as my other side ends its focus on the spell.

The silence around us ends and the sounds that follow both warm my heart and turn my stomach. I can see the horror behind me reflexed in Arioch’s eyes as he begs for my permission and understanding in what he desires to do. Though I cannot see Verin devouring her dead kin, the sounds I hear paint the picture for me in my mind.

“Do not let him go to waste.” I say more somberly than I meant. Arioch twists with a slight pang of anguish at my inability to not be level about all this. “We are blood. It is how we become strong, how we survive.” I use my words to try and fix my impulse inducted actions. His eyes shine a bit with his demon mischief and all is well within him again.

Arioch disappears from in front of me and his lack of touch leaves me feeling a bit fragile. I look toward the human who took my demon of knowledge from me and the strength that was fleeting comes back with vigor.

In a few short steps fueled by my rage, I am on top of the startled human. His eyes are wide and panicked, his breathing is fast but becoming labored. Aroich must have injured him from his leap. I reach out with strained fingers, my face twisted with my true and ancient self. My double voice echoes, my second voice beginning the chant for the upcoming sacrifice.

“You have made a mistake.” My voice is commanding, laced with the pull of my kind. They say that we are creatures that lure men to their ends. That was not true when I was young, but then I was taken, abused and broken until I freed myself. I was weak once, I do not intend to allow for that kind of mistake again. Now I use my gifts to rip things apart from the inside out.

The human sways into my call, his body moving with the flow of my words. My fingers grip into his throat and squeeze tightly. His eyes widen but he does not struggle, too far under my spell to thrash. I feel his life seeping from his body as the human grows limp in my clutches. I fight to reign myself in and gain control of my actions, and so I loosen my grip, letting the human fall to the ground.

Those moments, when I stretch my power to its thinnest, are when there is no sound save for my breathing. My kind used this power to see what lay before them clearly. In times of panic or stress, extremes with dire conconsquneses, the strongest of my kind could bend the earth and even time to our will.  My lonely decades before I was able to create Arioch were filled with try after try to make the world do just one thing for me. I felt I was owed that much.

When I saw my first ship within my grasp, I pulled and it came. I asked and the wooden craft listened. Soon I was no longer alone and wishing I was. When the men I thought would save me slept, I slit their throats and danced in their blood chanting a remembered ancient spell that brought forth my first angel demon, Arioch. I had given such a sacrifice that I was gifted with the strongest being I had ever I was no longer alone.

I turn and see my sweet angel demons Arioch and Verin greedily devouring Ronwe’s remains. They hiss and chatter their teeth at each other but Verin always backs down to her older, stronger, and deadlier brother. Jezeabeth has scooted closer to the body, placing her hand on her dead brother’s foot. Every time his body is jerked by one of his kin, Jezeabeth whimpers.

Jezeabeth reaches down and touches the cold marble floor, running her fingers through Ronwe’s blood, then slowly bringing her fingers to quivering lips pushed out by her double fangs. Her eyes are shut tight, tears streaming down her face that slowly heals from where she tore into herself. Though she fights the desire, she shoves her bloodied fingers into her mouth and moans.

Through trial and error I created my other angel demons, learning the aspects true demons were akin to. Not simply any creature can do as a sacrifice for my kind. It takes special kinds of depravities to be useful to a witch such as myself. I turn, looking down to see the human alive but motionless on the ground where I left him and though I want him dead, for what I plan to do next, I need him alive.

I drag the limp body to a slate of something and realize how the world has left me by. I think about this as I prepare the body I lift up on the table. This traveler’s ship should have been my first warning. It was long and slender, its sails were the same, and inside its belly were dozens of humans. Their pain and fear feed my angel demons powers immediately, and when they feasted they filled their bellies. We were arrogant thinking we had subdued the whole crew.

His armor was different, stronger and protecting more vulnerable spots. His weapons were harder to counter, having great skill at throwing what he wielded. Ronwe rocked as he tried to understand these new humans and I should have heeded that simple enough warning. He only rocked when he did not understand something and these humans were nothing new, at first glance.

Jezebeth bent down to attack the human, unable to wait any longer as is her one true vice, and in turn to dodge the spear aimed for her head. Ronwe was rocking to gain his knowledge, his truths, with his eyes closed tight. He was struck in the chest, lifted from the ground, and pinned to a pillar. There was no saving him once Jezebeth pulled the projectile from her brother’s chest.

#

                 Albastor litters the dirt floor surrounding the alter meant for sacrifices to Phorcys. A supposed monster of the sea made by titans of old. He fathered beasts that humans feared, becoming myths and legends.

The stone table is glossy in the right light where cracks and time have not worn it down. Though this tablet made earth and pressure holds no magic on its own, it is rooted deeply in this world, used by creatures just as ancient as the witch who plays with things she does not understand.

While she thirsts for never ending life, this piece of rock desires another taste of blood. This alter  is no living thing, it has no memory of which it could call upon, but the urge that lies within this stone slate is of ancient purpose and it hungers still.

                A giant raven flies through the opening in the crumbling roof and lands on the stone pallet. The onyx colored bird picks at its wing, adjusting its feathers while plucking bugs.

                Crimson starts to flow from the crack in the center of the alter, slowly at first almost searching, u finding its way to one of the clawed feet of the raven. The climb up its scaly leg goes unnoticed until the blood becomes freezing to the touch, so cold it burns at first and the raven shakes its leg. Once it realizes the burning is only creeping higher it tries to fly off.

                The tug from the bird sets the blood in dire motion as it reaches out like a living thing. The burgundy and crimson shines as it stretches with the bird’s attempt to escape. The panicked cawing is muffled quickly as its beak and face are wrapped in sentient liquid. The helpless creature is engulfed and though it continues to struggle at first it slows and it easily dragged down to the alter with a wet thud.

                Within seconds, the encased and panicked bird is dragged down through the cracks of the stone. The deep red mass of something living yet not creeps back down from where it came. Silence falls over the room as everything returns back to how it was before the bird was taken as sacrifice.

                The sound of wings flapping above the opening in the crypt break the eerie quiet as Agramon lands beside the alter. His wings dissipate once his bare feet hit the ground and he slowly walks toward Ronwe’s remains. He falls to his knee next to the barely recognizable body, his head hung low. He has fought the urge long enough.

                “Please forgive me.” Agramon whispers before fighting his need no longer.    

 

#

                The scream wakes me from my dreams. It is loud and shrill but odd. Something feels different, something is wrong. Verin and Jezebeth are at my feet when we are awoken so harshly. They fall from the bed with failing limbs and extending teeth. They try to stand and protect me but the next horrible sound send them both to the ground again, gripping each other as they rock and huddle trying to hide from the shrieking. My sweet girls look to me for help but I can offer none.

Arioch is still at my side, curled behind me, trying to keep me safe from whatever this is, but he struggles to not cower like his kin. He twitches every time the halls of our home are filled with the screech, his nails digging into me unintentionally. He starts to hiss and growl, then whimpers and cries for me to make it stop. This voice does not affect me as it does them, it calls to me, begs me like the rest of my angel demons to make the hurting stop.

Every sound is a wail of pain that is laced with a double voice though it speaks nonsense unable to form full words of any recognizable dialect. I can take the cries no longer and pry Arioch from me. Using my eyes to explain how sure I am in my actions, he lets me go reservedly then curls into a tight ball protecting his ears. I grab my epiblema from the floor and wrap it over my shoulders after adjusting my peples, tugging at the fabric to make walking easier.

My I run my fingers over Verin and Jezebeth as I pass them. They both reach out to me and graze my ankle with their tensed fingers before pulling back from their shared anguish. None of my little ones can utter a word through their pain save for one. It is when his double voice calls out clear as day that I start to fear, which only feeds him further.

“MOTHER!” Agramon’s scream is unnerving. “Mother, it is scarred! Make it stop mother! Make it stop!” In the darkness of the ebbing night, I begin to run.

Rounding the corner in my panic, I see Agramon covering his ears and rocking next to Ronwe’s remains. What little was left by morning I planned to give to the sea. I notice Agramon’s hands and face smeared with blood and I am glad to know he fed despite himself. I look to my right and am so stunned I feel frozen in place.

Laying on the floor, covered in muddy blood and gore as the creature tosses in the dirt, is my new false angel. The poor thing hollers and wails as it rolls around, but its voice is strained. No words are formed, only squeaks and squawks that at first I don’t believe I hear. His double voice is random in tone and inflection, sounding like more nonsensical words. The giant black feathered wings that strain to extend from its back are an oddity.

My new angel demon frantically flops on the floor, his dark skin covered in gore, hairless everywhere from what I can see save for eyebrows and long lashes that protect sheer ice blue depths. He peers into my eyes, calming finally, and I feel unmade. It feels as though my world shatters in the most profound and glorious way. I begin to wonder about the world outside our tiny island. How what I once thought was my kingdom has become our prison. My world is righted as I feel a warmth around me.

“Will it always be this scarred mother?” Agramon looks up to me, forming next to us. He softly touches his new brother’s soft feathers and places his chin on my shoulder. Dried blood flakes off his face and fingers.

“I do not know, little angel. He is something new.” I whisper taking note at this one’s lack of interest in Ronwe’s remains no more a few yards away.

“Well, I hope he stays scarred. I like it that he’s scarred. He helps me talk, mother.” His smile is childlike and endearing. “Can I keep him?”

I chuckle. “He is not yours to keep, but would you like to teach him how to fly little one?”

“Oh yes!” Agramon laughs loudly. “YES, PLEASE MOTHER!” Agramon screams, jumping in front of me and hopping up and down while clapping. He reaches out for his brother, grabbing at his arm and yanking for him to get up. His newest kin slowly stands on wobbly legs. Without prompting, Agramon keeps him steady, helping him take his first few steps on new legs.

They walk around the temple a few times, the new angel growing more confident by the second with Agramon’s aid. There is no need for words, as I think most of our conversations will go with this new addition. Watching Agramon signal to his brother to stay quiet by placing a finger over his mouth every time the fledgling begins to speak is enduring.

Once this childlike creature is able to stand without holding onto his brother, Agramon forms and stretches his wings nudging the newest angel demon to copy him. He hunches over, crooking his head side to side a few times, watching intently as Agramon is showered in gold and silver dust.

“What do you think brrrr… brrrrr…. brrrotherrrrrr.” Agramon starts to stutter again. He flexes his wings quickly in his new brother’s face making him jump back and twitch. “I like it when I scare him mother. He makes me strong.” Agramon roars and my heart warms. He puts his hand out for his new brother to take.

It is a cautious movement on this new creation’s part, which makes me proud. Such a new thing to this world and he is already learning so quickly. Ice blue eyes peer into their sibling’s, turning his head unnaturally like a bird’s. He places his hand in Agramon’s palm and they are gone, soaring in the air in the next instant.

“Bring him back safely!” I call out to my angel demons only to hear childish giggles and squawking in return.

“I want to meet him!” Verin comes out from her hiding spot. “Can I go play too, mother?” She kneels in front of me, putting her head under my hand so I will pet her.

“Be gentle please my sweet, he is still so very new.” She stands and prances with glee in front of me before turning and lifting off to chase her siblings.

“I don’t want to play with the new boy. He looks ugly.” Jezeabeth purrs to my left as she appears from the air. “His voice is very soothing though. I like it.” Her frown is full of mischief as are her bright orange eyes before taking to the skies.

I feel Arioch wrap himself around me and murmur in my ear. “This new one’s voice hurts my head.”

“He won’t talk much. We will learn a different way to speak with him.”

“He is a quick study.” Arioch whispers in my ear as he points toward my black winged angel.

Our newest addition grabs at his kin as they soar past each other. He out maneuvers most and dodges the rest. Verin gets noticeably irritated but it has been decades since she had someone who could out do her in the skies. This new angel demon is a test for all of us and I know he will make us stronger.

“What will you name him mighty Ligeia?” Arioch mutters into my ear, pulling me tighter to him.

I answer simply. “Arael.”

“Hmmmm,” Arioch starts. “Little bird it is.” He kisses my neck gently. “Excellent choice.”

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