This is my answer to @Paula Wyant’s Wednesday challenge…as well as an attempt to some work on my Camp NaNoWriMo project, which has gotten sadly neglected, as I spent time researching Correggio and Parmagianino. (You can find some of their amazing art at my ‘Renaissance Art’ Pinterest board.) However, back to ‘On the Other Side of the Mask’, where I at last get into Lord Ruthvyn’s head a little…
“I may have accidentally sort of adopted some dragons.” Lord Ruthvyn raised the glass of wine to his lips, so he didn’t have to look directly into Her eyes. Dragons were a metaphor for demons, monsters, creatures who destroyed the harmony of flocks. However, some of the most powerful, influential, and most interesting people of the world could be considered dragons.
The true Lord Byron might have been considered a dragon. Certainly, as far as Paradise and her flocks were concerned.
“A dragon? You?” Louise Marie threw her head back to let out a harsh laugh, although it wasn’t truly Louise Marie who was speaking. None of the pale lords were quite themselves, when the Goddess chose to speak directly through them. “After adopting so many sweet songbirds, has one of them developed scales and claws?”
“Two,” Lord Ruthvyn admitted. Why was he so reluctant to speak of Byron and Shelley? What belonged to him belonged to the Goddess. “I fear they have something different than claws.” He relinquished each word with slow reluctance, as if something inside him struggled to keep his fear in check. No, not his fear. His secrets. His secrets about his boys.
“What is it?” Louise Marie asked. She reached out a pale hand, paler than Lord Ruthvyn’s own, to touch him. He fought the urge to recoil. This was their Goddess, speaking to him from her chosen vessel. At any time, it might be Lord Ruthvyn himself. Her icy power had already entered him, on numerous occassions. Leaving him chilled and hollow, even when he was one with Her.
Why should this cause him concern? Lord Ruthvyn was one of the pale lords, a superior being, ranked higher than the mere sheep in the flocks of Paradise! He was one of her Chosen! The Goddess would always take care of him.
“Will She?” Lord Ruthvyn could almost see Shelley standing before him, his lips forming the question. His blue green eyes had been so solemn, so innocent in their earnestness, as he regarded his ‘father’. “Does she truly take care of you?”
“Questions,” Lord Ruthvyn murmured, releasing the word with slow reluctance. Saying it almost felt like a betrayal. It shouldn’t be. Everyone served the Goddess, including Shelley. The sooner the child learned this, the better. “They have questions.”
“Questions,” Louise Marie said, as she shuddered. It sent her pendant and blood stone earrings swaying, as every lace covered inch of her quivered. “This songbird of yours may be something much worse than a dragon.”
“Have pity, Beauteous One,” he murmured, inclining his head. “He’s just a child. He doesn’t know your ways, your glory. He has yet to taste your song.”
“Yes, although We’ve had a taste of his,” Louise Marie said. The whites of her eyes gleamed like ivory, as they swallowed her irises and pupil. Her tongue flickered out of her mouth to touch her red lips. “A dangerous flavor, but not without savor.”
“He shall be yours,” Lord Ruthvyn vowed. He didn’t raise his head, as his curls tickled his cheeks, concealing his eyes. It was a boyish mischief, to hide your expression from the One Who Sees All, but his hair had a will of their own. Parts of his body were starting to express themselves, as if reminding him of the time, when he’d been a man. When he’d had hopes and dreams, as he lived in a very different place than Paradise…
…when he’d been lost. When he’d been alone. Before he’d found her glory, her majesty.
“Know your place, precious,” she murmured. She seized his chin, raising his head. Forcing him to meet her sightless eyes. “Your duty is to find Us songbirds to sing Our glory. To worship and love me, as all creatures of Paradise must. To offer up their songs to Our Being, so We can stay strong enough to keep Paradise enclosed.”
“Yes, Beauteous One,” he murmured. His skin crawled at Her touch, but he loved it, as always. Just as he loved and hated Her.
Wait a moment, when had he ever hated his Goddess? Paradise’s savior?
Confusion threatened to overwhelm him, but She was there. Cool fingers caressed his face, banishing his doubts, banishing his new awareness. He belonged to Her. Lord Ruthvyn was Her pale lord. Always.
Now, he was hungry, almost as hungry as She. Only his new songbirds could satisfy this hunger.
He hoped Byron and Shelley would not disappoint.