On Me Me Monday, I started an in character serialized Tale of the Shadow Forest from Leiwell’s point of view.
Today, we pick up where we left off…
Slender and fragile as if he were made of glass, he stood in the middle of a river of fire, a living avatar of shadow for all his shining bronze hair and luminous eyes.
What was Damian within me quickened at the sight of him. What was Leiwell trembled with possessive fury.
For in his arms, he held two infants. Within their tiny faces, their unseeing eyes and small fists were lights, the blue and green I’d once glimpsed.
No. These babies were the lights incarnate, helpless in the arms of one who had every reason to become my enemy.
“Leiwell.” The boy fixed his multicolored gaze upon me. “You’ve taken someone very precious from me.”
“Please don’t hurt them.” I fell to my knees and lowered my head. “Punish me, rip what’s Damian Ashelocke out of me. Just don’t hurt them.”
“I won’t.” Christopher held out the infants in his arms. One squirmed, reached up for him. “If anything, I want you to protect them. Can you do that, Leiwell? Can you be a brother to them?”
The squirming infant reached out his pudgy hand in my direction, feeling toward me.
“Danyel already likes you.” Christopher smiled with a hint of sadness. “He likes me, too. I fear he’ll be too ready to like everybody.”
The second baby opened his blue eyes and let out an angry cry. He reached out for his brother.
“Tayel doesn’t appear to like anyone.” Christopher lowered his eyelashes. “Born of my essence, they may return to me if they stay close. We’ll always be drawn together so I’m sending them away with you.” He lowered the babies into the fiery water.
“What are you doing?” Heedless, I dove into the fiery water. It kissed my skin in steamy bites without burning it.
I reached out and claimed Danyel, taking him into my arms. How someone as delicate as Christopher could have carried so much weight had been a mystery, until I held one of them. Danyel was as light as if he was nothing, too light. As light as one would expect fragments of a creature of shadow to be.
“Give me that baby, boy.” Map waddled past me and caught little Tayel in her thick embrace. “You know Ashleigh, Leiwell, and I will give them a good home.” She glanced over at Christopher, allowing Tayel to crawl over her.
“Why?” I murmured. “I’d think you’d want Damian back. Instead you’re giving part of yourself to me.”
“Once you’ve been shattered in the Shadow Forest, you can’t go back. You can only go on.” Christopher raised a hand to finger his own golden forelock. “Perhaps this is a way for Damian and I to continue on together. To steal a part of ourselves back from the shadows, even if we can never return home.” He spread his hand over his face, stared at me through his fingers. “Those fragments of us will find a home again through you.”
“May you never change your mind about this.” I gazed upon this boy with his heart shaped face and delicate features. How easy it would be to love him, yet he posed a threat to my new brothers by his very connection to them. “Being what you are, you’re sure to hunger for what you’ve lost.” I hugged Danyel to my chest. “If you ever try to devour them, I’ll make certain I devour you first.”
“Spoken like an overprotective brother.” Christopher let out a low laugh. “You might turn out to be very good at protecting these twins, Leiwell.”
“Indeed, he might.”
Christopher and I shuddered as if we were one person at the sound of my master’s voice.